Indiana special education law (i.e., Article 7) requires that each eligible student with a disability enrolled in a public school between the ages of 3 and 22 be provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education or a FAPE. A FAPE is defined as special education and related services that are provided at public expense, and in accordance with an IEP [at no cost to the parent(s)]. Article 7 describes the school’s responsibility to provide a FAPE to a student with a disability, including evaluating the student, working with the parent(s) as part of the case conference committee (CCC), developing and implementing the student’s individualized education program (IEP), and ensuring that procedural safeguards are provided.
LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIORNMENT (LRE)
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is best understood as a philosophy or an attitude. The LRE provision is contained in the Federal Law (The Individuals with Disabilities Act “IDEA”). IDEA mandates that all students with disabilities receive a free, appropriate, public education in the setting that most adequately meets their diverse instructional and related service needs. It also states that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities must be educated with their non-disabled peers. A continuum of placement options must be available for the CCC team to consider; the choice cannot be determined by what is convenient or available, or just by continuation of previous year’s placement.
The concept of LRE focuses on the unique abilities and needs of each student receiving special education supports and services. To simply proclaim that all students will attend their home schools and receive instruction within a general education classroom may not adequately address the needs of many disabled students. Nevertheless, all students with disabilities should initially be considered for placement within the general education setting, and only when it becomes apparent that the setting is not appropriate, should other options be considered.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA ’04), and Article 7 generally require the school to obtain parental consent before disclosing or releasing personally identifiable information from the student’s educational record. However, there are also a number of situations in which the school may release certain information about a student without obtaining written parental consent. In situations where the school may disclose information without consent, school personnel must make a reasonable attempt to notify the parent(s)/student of legal age of the disclosure and, upon request, provide the parent(s)/student of legal age with a copy of the information that was disclosed.
The parent(s) and students of legal age have the right to inspect and review the educational record. When the parent(s)/student of legal age makes a request to inspect and review the record, the school must provide access to the record:
Without unnecessary delay;
Before any meeting regarding an IEP, interim alternative educational setting (IAES) or manifestation determination;
Before a resolution session or any due process hearing; and
Within 45 calendar days of the request.
In addition to looking at the student’s record, the parent(s)/student of legal age also has
the right to:
Have information interpreted or explained by school personnel,
Have alternative arrangements or a copy of the record made if the originals would prevent the parent(s) from being able to inspect and review the record,
Have a representative inspect and review the record on behalf of the parent(s) or student of legal age (with appropriate Release of Information on file), and
Receive a copy of the record for use in a pending due process hearing.
REMINDER: If the student’s parents are divorced, the non-custodial parent has the right to access the student’s educational record as long as the school has not received a court order terminating or restricting the parent’s authority to access the student’s educational record.