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What Does the Law Say?


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a law that addresses civil rights. It restricts entities that receive federal funds from discriminating against those with disabilities. In public education, a school cannot place a student in segregated classes or facilities because of a disability. Students with disabilities must be afforded the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers regarding academic, nonacademic and extracurricular activities. Under Section 504, students that qualify for services may receive accommodations and supplementary services to help them access the general education curriculum. Please click here to view the U.S. Department of Education's resource guide to 504*.

*Office for Civil Rights. (2016,        December). Parent and educator resource guide to section 504 in public elementary and secondary schools. U.S. Department of Education.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that has set guidelines for special education. In order to benefit from public education, IDEA created rules for specially designed instruction and room for individualization for children with disabilities. IDEA ensures students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE), appropriate evaluation, individualized education plan (IEP), least restrictive environment (LRE), parent and student participation in the decision making process, and procedural safeguards. Please review this IDEA handbook by Disability Rights Texas and The Arc of Texas* for a more comprehensive view of this legislation.

*Disability Rights Texas & The Arc of Texas. (2022, July 30). IDEA manual: A guide for Texas parents and students on special education rights. Disability Rights Texas.


Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is afforded to all students, including those students with disabilities. It is the legal duty of a local education agency (LEA) to ensure that every child receives a FAPE. This includes general education and special education. FAPE protects students with disabilities from being discriminated against, excluded, or segregated. If the LEA fails to implement a child's IEP, they are denying that child a FAPE, and could face legal consequences. For an example of FAPE under IDEA as it evolved, click here.


The least restrictive environment (LRE) is the duty of a local education agency to ensure that each child with a disability is educated alongside children without disabilities, to the maximum extent appropriate. This applies to nonacademic and extracurricular activities. If the use of supplementary aids and services does not allow a student with disabilities to be educated satisfactorily due to the severity of the disability, then a child may be removed from the general education classroom. 

Child Find

Under IDEA, it is the legal duty of the local education agency to locate, identify, and evaluate all children who are in need of special education services. This service is offered at no cost to families. This obligation by the LEA is required even if the school is not providing special education services to the child. Child Find applies to all children from birth to age 21, including homeless children, migrant children, children in private institutions, and children who are wards of the state.

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural safeguards explain the rights of parents of students with disabilities. Under IDEA, local education agencies are required to provide parents with procedural safeguards during the following times: upon initial referral or upon request for evaluation, upon the first occurrence of the filing of a due process hearing complaint or special education complaint during a school year, upon a disciplinary change of placement, or upon a request by a parent. Districts are required to document the provision of procedural safeguards. Procedural safeguards must be provided in the native language of the parents or other mode of communication. Click here to view the Region 18 procedural safeguards.*



*Texas Education Agency. (2022, September). Notice of procedural safeguards. TEA: Texas      Education Agency.  

Guide to the ARD Process

In addition to procedural safeguards, parents are provided with a guide to the Admission, Review, and Dismissal Process for a student that is or might be eligible for special education services. This guide helps to explain the rights and procedures of parents and their role in the ARD committee, as well as explain the steps involved in the ARD process. It is imperative that parents are involved in the decision making process for their child's IEP. In order for parents to fully participate in the ARD process, it is recommended that they review this guide. Click here to review the Region 18 Guide to the ARD Process.*



*Texas Education Agency. (2021, February). Parents guide to the admission, review, and dismissal process. TEA: Texas Education Agency.   

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