Is My Child Receiving FAPE?
You know the acronym – FAPE. But do you know what it means? Do you know what it means for your child?
Spelled out, FAPE is a Free Appropriate Public Education. It means that your child, whether a child with special needs or a non-disabled (typical) child, is entitled to a free and appropriate education in the public school system. Let’s break it down simply and a little further.
Your child with special needs:
- will receive an education and support through the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) free of charge just like their typical peers; you will be charged for fees that typical peers are charged for or asked to bring the same school supplies that the typical peers are asked to bring in
- should be placed in their least restrictive environment (LRE), and the general education classroom is encouraged as that setting
- will receive an “appropriate” education; it is not a “better” or “worse” education than their typical peers
- is able to attend school in the public school system unless you as a parent chose to place your child in a private school
- will receive special education and related services, accommodations & modifications (if any) that are agreed to by the IEP Team and then written into the IEP.
Under the 20 U.S. Code § 1400 (d) Purposes – www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/20/1400 “The purposes of this chapter are:
(1) (A) to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living; ….”
FAPE is written in the federal IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) law, and is passed down to each state and then to every district so that our children with special needs will receive services to meet their unique needs. The law goes on to say FAPE will be provided so that our children will be prepared for further education, employment, and independent living which means your child should be able to enter the workforce and live “independently” (which might be in a group home with independent life skills) after high school.
Services that are provided to your child through the IEP are to be provided by the School District and parents do not pay for these services. Your child should receive the same education in the public school as their typical peers; it is an equal education with access for your child to the curriculum and school activities. The services provided through the IEP do not “give” your child instruction that is “better or worse” in educating your child, but the IEP will state the services your child needs to meet his/her unique needs.
You, as a parent, have the option of placing your child in a private school. Check with your state’s Dept. of Education and your district for the policies that apply to children in Exceptional Student Education for private school placement.
Bottom line: your child should be educated in his/ her least restrictive environment (general education classes is suggested) with their peers and receive a free appropriate education in the public school and services and accommodations to meet his/her unique needs through the IEP.
Doreen Franklin Doreen is a Special Education Consultant. She assists families with children with special needs with their IEPs. Doreen & her husband adopted two daughters; both are special needs. Doreen homeschooled their older daughter and has tutored other children.
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2015 Magazine