Special Education Principles

Special education is constructed by a vast array of legal regulations and guidelines for best practices. Despite the sometimes complex nature of special education, six basic principles remain at the heart of all programs and services. The following six principles form the foundation from which all other special education and related services are built.

  1. Zero Reject and Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)

    • Outlines that all students with special needs are entitled to receive a free and appropriate public education.

    • Zero Rejection: no child may be refused access to FAPE based on his or her disabilities.

    • There will be no required out-of-pocket costs to the families of these children for those services.

  2. Nondiscriminatory and Appropriate Evaluation

    • Students with disabilities are entitled to a high qualify evaluation, which may produce an identification as a student with a special need.

    • The evaluation should be completed by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and using more than a single indicator of disability.

  3. Appropriate Individualized Education Program

  4. Least Restrictive Environment

  5. Student and Parental Participation

    • Allows for students to play a part of educational planning (when appropriate).

    • Requires that parents play an integral part in their child’s educational planning.

    • Major decisions are not to be made without fully informed parental consent (or student consent if the student is of the age of majority.)

    • Allows the family (student and parents) to give input into the IEP development process.

    1. Procedural Safeguards

    • Ensures that the rights of students with disabilities and their parents are respected.

    • Directs that schools and IEP teams follow standard procedures for the development and implementation of specialized services.

    • Provides an avenue for families to challenge the decisions made by public schools.