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Recognizing the importance and significa

Recognizing the importance and significance of identifying a child as having a disability, procedural safeguards were enacted with the passage of the EHA back in 1975. Congress found these safeguards to be so important they have been included and expanded upon with each new reauthorization of the law. One major purpose of the procedural safeguards is to protect the rights of children with disabilities and provide families and schools with ways to solve any disagreements or disputes (Center for Parent Information and Resources, 2017). Another purpose is to ensure parents or legal guardians are meaningfully involved in the special education programming process on behalf of their child (Yell, Katsiyannis, & Bradley, 2011).

IDEA requires schools to provide parents or guardians with a copy of the procedural safeguards once per year. There are exceptions, however. The notice must also be provided when a child is initially referred for special education evaluation, the first time in a school year a state complaint is filed and when the first due process complaint is received in a school year when certain discipline procedures are initiated, and finally, whenever the parent or legal guardian requests a copy. Failure to follow these rules could result in an investigation by the state department of education.

You’re might be wondering what is contained in the procedural safeguards notice. By law, the notice contains a detailed explanation of those safeguards provided within the IDEA. A link to a sample of the safeguards is listed in the Weekly Resources. According to the Center for Parent Information and Resources (2017), some of the key safeguards most relevant to families include the following:

  • The right of parents or legal guardians to receive a complete explanation of all the procedural safeguards available under IDEA and the procedures in the state for presenting complaints;
  • Confidentiality and the right of parents or legal guardians to inspect and review the educational records of their child;
  • The right of parents or legal guardians to participate in meetings related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE (a free appropriate public education) to their child;
  • The right of parents or legal guardians to obtain an independent educational evaluation (IEE) of their child;
  • The right of parents or legal guardians to receive “prior written notice” on matters relating to the identification, evaluation, or placement of their child, and the provision of FAPE to their child;
  • The right of parents or legal guardians to give or deny their consent before the school may take certain action concerning their child;
  • The right of parents or legal guardians to disagree with decisions made by the school system on those issues; and
  • The right of parents or legal guardians and schools to use IDEA’s mechanisms for resolving disputes, including the right to appeal determinations.

An Introduction to Special Education Eligibility

For a child to receive special education services, they must first be found to have a disability in one or more of the 13 disability categories introduced last week. The IDEA defines very prescriptive steps to ensure children are accurately assessed and identified so appropriate educational programming and services can be recommended and implemented. The Center for Parent Information and Resources (2017) offers an overview of ten essential steps in the special education process as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1
Ten Essential Steps in the Special Education Process (adapted from Center for Parent Information and Resources, 2017).

The eligibility process is complex, and familiarity with these steps is important because it is during this eligibility process some procedural safeguards may be ignored or violated. Because special education is a civil rights issue, it is important for schools to ensure they are following the laws.


Center for Parent Information and Resources. (2017). Parental rights under the IDEA.

Yell, M. L., Katsiyannis, A., & Bradley, M. R. (2011). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: The evolution of special education law. In J. M. Kauffman, D. P. Hallahan, & P. C. Pullen (Eds.), Handbook of special education (pp. 61-76). Routledge. 

Weekly Resources and Assignments

Review the resources from the Course Resources link, located in the top navigation bar, to prepare for this week’s assignments. The resources may include textbook reading assignments, journal articles, websites, links to tools or software, videos, handouts, rubrics, etc.

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