Every Child is Entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education
Children with disabilities have a right to a free appropriate public education, no matter what type of disability they have. In California, disabled students between the ages of 3 and 22 may be eligible for special education and related services.
FAPE means special education and related services designed for a student's unique needs. The student's education must be designed to help the student make progress in school. Special education must also be designed to help the student learn skills for independent living.
An Appropriate Education means that the student's education must be reasonably calculated to provide some educational benefit to the student. The United States Supreme Court stated this definition in a case called Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central District v. Rowley. The actual decision can be found by typing the case citation 458 U.S. 176 (1982) into your website browser. The case was decided in 1982 and it is still the law today.
In 2017, the United States Supreme Court wrote another decision about special education. This recent case is called Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The Supreme Court said that school districts need to offer a special education student a program that is reasonably calculated to enable the student to make progress according to the student’s circumstances. The actual decision can be found by copying and pasting the following citation into your internet browser: Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Re-1, 137 S. Ct. 988.
All special education students must have an individualized education program, often referred to as an IEP. An IEP is a document that contains many different kinds of information about a student’s education. Included in an IEP are: a list of how well the student is doing in school at the time the IEP is written; what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are; what areas the student will work on (called “goals”); what type of special education the student needs; what sort of classroom the student will be in; what type of related services the student will get; and what accommodations and modifications the student may need to be able to be successful at school.