What is Special Education?

Students with disabilities are protected under federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as state law. These laws require school districts to provide a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to eligible students. This means that children with disabilities are entitled to special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs. If parents believe that their child may need special education services, they may request that the district evaluate the child. Parents then become members of a team of persons who will make decisions about the student by creating an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The parents input and role in this process are important since they are involved in determining what action will be taken to address their child's needs. The New Jersey Department of Education has developed a booklet to assist parents in understanding their role and their rights under the law so that they may advocate for their child. The publication, Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE), is available in the child study team office or this Web site