Special Education (IDEA)


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.

How funds are distributed:

Under IDEA, federal special education funds are distributed through three state grant programs and several discretionary grant programs:

  • Part B of IDEA, the main program, authorizes grants to state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) to offset part of the costs of the K-12 education needs of children with disabilities.
  • Part C authorizes infant and toddler state grants for Pre-K programs and early intervention services.
  • Part D and Part E authorize discretionary grants to SEAs and LEAs for a variety of “national” special education activities, including research, evaluation, and the recruitment and professional development of personnel.

To receive funding, school districts must comply with the following six main principles:

  • Every child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education.
  • When a school professional believes that a student between the ages of 3 and 21 may have a disability that has substantial impact on the student’s learning or behavior, the student is entitled to an evaluation in all areas related to the suspected disability.
  • An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must be created to lay out a series of specific actions and steps through which educational providers, parents and the student may reach the student’s stated goals.
  • The education and services for children with disabilities must be provided in the least restrictive environment, and if possible, those children should be placed in a “typical” education setting with non-disabled students.
  • Input of the child and their parents must be taken into account in the education process.
  • When a parent feels that an IEP is inappropriate for their child, or that their child is not receiving needed services, they have the right under IDEA to challenge their child’s treatment (due process).

How funds may be spent:

IDEA Grant funds that flow through to the LEAs may be used for staffing, educational materials, equipment, and other expenses for providing special education and related services – as well as supplementary aids and services – to children with disabilities. These funds are used to pay the excess costs of providing special education and related services to children with disabilities.

Can I use IDEA funds to purchase VocabularySpellingCity?

Yes! VocabularySpellingCity is a comprehensive supplemental educational tool for core Language Arts instruction. It meets IDEA’s definition for supplementary aids and services that are often critical elements in supporting the education of children with disabilities in regular educational settings. It further provides rigorous learning opportunities not only during the traditional school day, but also during extended day offerings such as before and after care, Saturday academies and summer school.

For more information, go to http://idea.ed.gov/.