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Special Education Procedural Safeguards: IDEA & Explanation

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  • 0:01 Procedural Safeguards & IDEA
  • 0:39 Key Concepts
  • 1:52 Procedural Safeguards Defined
  • 2:19 Procedural Safeguards…
  • 7:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Denise Miles
IDEA regulations include a set of procedural safeguards designed to protect the rights of children with disabilities, their parents, and the involved agencies. This lesson explores the most important safeguards afforded to families under IDEA.

Procedural Safeguards & IDEA

Can you remember a time when you had to stand up for your rights or the rights of someone else? How difficult was that situation? Did you have the resources and information you needed? A parent of a child with a disability often finds herself or himself having to advocate for what is best for her or his child. The procedural safeguards described in this lesson help parents do that by providing a guide to the rights they have under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Key Concepts

Before diving into the procedural safeguards, it will be helpful to know a bit more about a couple of key concepts. IDEA, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is the law that enforces the requirement for education and related services to children with disabilities up to the age of 21 in the United States. IDEA regulations ensure that free appropriate public education, or FAPE, is provided to students with disabilities, meaning that, at the public expense, a child with a disability has the right to an education (special education and related services) that meets the individual student goals and the state standards.

A final key concept to remember is least restrictive environment, or LRE. Protected in the regulations of IDEA, the LRE refers to the opportunity for students with disabilities to be served, to the extent possible, with non-disabled peers in the general classroom. When that is not possible, the setting should be the best suited to accommodate the child.

Procedural Safeguards Defined

The procedural safeguards are a set of requirements that go across the laws and regulations of IDEA to protect the rights of children with disabilities and their families, particularly in regard to the access to free appropriate public education (FAPE). These rights and responsibilities also extend to include the public agencies that are serving these children.

Procedural Safeguards Explained

As you can imagine, to review all of the rights and responsibilities covered by these safeguards would take hours; however, there are some key pieces to know. Understanding these key protections will help anyone working with families or agencies ensure that the rights of children with disabilities are being protected.

Each year that a child is identified as having a disability and is served by a public agency, the parents are to be given a copy of these safeguards. This is essential because it ensures parents have the most updated information regarding the rights they and their children have. Remember, the goal of these safeguards is to ensure that children have access to free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment possible.

The rights and responsibilities of parents, children, and agencies are outlined in great detail in the full procedural safeguards of IDEA. Here is a brief overview of the procedural safeguards. Note that they fall into three types: parent notification and consent, mediation and due process, and placement decisions. Parental notification and consent involves protections for the place of parents in making decisions for the welfare of their children.

  • First, parents have the right to request and public agencies have the responsibility to produce an independent education evaluation. This means, at no cost to the family, the agency must provide an evaluation by a qualified independent professional. This person should be truly independent and not employed by that agency.
  • Also, parents have the right to receive and agencies have the responsibility to produce prior written notice of all meetings regarding decisions around a child's disability. This notice must be given in adequate time for the meeting time to be adjusted so the parents can attend. If the parents do not respond, the agency must make its best effort to contact the parents and document all contact. Once the child reaches the age of majority, she or he must also be given this prior written notice.
  • The right to give or take away parental consent to services is reserved. This allows parents to stop services at any time and requires that they are informed about anything that involves their child.
  • Finally, these rights include the right to parental access to all records regarding their child's disability. If a parent chooses to contest something found, the agency has the responsibility to act or call a hearing to have the matter settled.

The next set of procedural safeguards cover mediation and due process. These methods are used to legally settle disputes over the child's care and education:

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