FAPE - What Does It Mean?

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In This Issue . . .

Circulation: 81,183
ISSN: 1538-320

September 21 , 2010

If you have a child with a disability, your child is entitled to FAPE - a free appropriate public education, under the IDEA. What does this mean?

In a nutshell, FAPE is an individualized educational program that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and from which the child receives educational benefit, and prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living.

In Part 3 of our Back to School Series, you learned about the law and your legal rights. It is also important to read caselaw about your legal issue. Caselaw often determines how the law and regulations are applied. Even adverse decisions from the courts teach valuable lessons.

In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate, you will learn about the legal concept of FAPE, who is responsible for providing a free, appropriate public education and what the courts have said about how it is delivered.

Please don't hesitate to forward this issue to other friends, families, or colleagues.

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The Legal Concept of FAPE

The legal concept of FAPE is defined in IDEA at 20 U. S. C. § 1401(9).

To answer your questions about FAPE, we built a Wrightslaw page about this important topic. You will find links to articles and information, law and regulations, and other resources about FAPE.

Courts have held that while children are not entitled to a Cadillac program, they are entitled to a serviceable Chevrolet that runs. What "works" for most kids, won't work for every child. In order to provide FAPE, the law requires schools to provide services that are individualized to meet the unique needs of each child.

Read Individualized Instruction is Not One-Size-Fits All


Who is Responsible for Providing FAPE?

"My daughter has made little or no progress after years of special education...is the school liable for not providing an appropriate education?"

The school is responsible for providing your child with a free appropriate education (FAPE).

Your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) is the roadmap that describes how the school will provide your child with a FAPE.

Learn about the school's responsibility for providing a free, appropriate public education in this article by Pete and Pam Wright, Who Is Responsible for Providing FAPE?


Your Roadmap to FAPE: Evans v. Rhinebeck

How do judges determine if a child is receiving FAPE?

Courts have held that to receive FAPE, your child must receive meaningful educational benefit.

Learn how test scores provided objective evidence in this case that Frank Evans did not make progress in the public school program - that he did not receive educational benefit.

Evans v. Rhinebeck: Your Roadmap to FAPE.


Caselaw About FAPE

The first special education case decided in 1982 by the U.S. Supreme Court was Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Amy Rowley, 458 U.S. 176. In Rowley, the high court defined a "free appropriate public education" as "access to an education" or a "basic floor of educational opportunity."

When you read caselaw, you will see why you receive conflicting opinions and advice about a legal issue.

Legal decisions are often hard to understand when you first read them. If you read a case and don't understand what it means, don't give up! If you persevere, you and your child will benefit from your hard work.

Caselaw about FAPE


Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

"Every parent who wants services for a child with special needs can benefit from having this book as a reference."

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy

Are you having difficulty getting the school to provide FAPE for your child? New to special education and don't know where to start?

  • practical suggestions
  • tips & techniques
  • tactics & strategy
  • forms and sample letters
  • resources from web sites to worksheets

Preview a copy today. Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy


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