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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) of 1997
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as PL 94-142 is now called, makes special education and related services (physical education, counseling, transportation, etc.) a federal entitlement for students with disabilities. It requires that these students be offered a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment and focuses on parent participation, procedural safeguards and confidentiality. Amendments have extended the entitlement for education to students three to five and addressed the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. States receiving federal education funds are required to identify and evaluate students with disabilities and offer them an individualized education plan (IEP) or, in the case of infants and toddlers, an individual family service plan (IFSP) of special education and related services.