Learn About Special Education IDEA Parent Rights

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

Mother reading a book with her son in his bedroom
Image Source/Getty Images

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, amended in 2004, includes specific rights for parents or legal guardians of children with disabilities.

Procedural Safeguards

Procedural safeguards provide minimum guidance to schools on requirements for:

Parent Rights Belong to Parents and Benefit the Child

Under the IDEA, a child's parents hold the child's educational rights. Parents keep those rights until one of the following happens:

  • the child reaches the age of majority based on his state's regulations
  • the parents' or guardians' rights are terminated through a court proceeding, as in cases of parent mental incompetence and child abuse, neglect, and abandonment
  • one parent is awarded educational decision-making rights in a divorce decree or settlement (some cases)

Upon reaching the age of majority, a young adult with a disability retains his rights under IDEA until or unless one of the following occurs:

  • he graduates
  • he ages out of his school program at age 21
  • he drops out of school or becomes home-schooled
    • (However, districts will periodically send reminders to the student and parent or guardian that special education programs are available to them should the child re-enroll. If the child re-enrolls, his rights remain in place until he graduates or ages out of the program.)
  • he is found legally incompetent in court
    • (If a young adult is found incompetent, rights revert to the parent or legal guardian. In cases where there is no parent or legal guardian, the courts may appoint a case manager to oversee the adult's life.)

Schools are required to advise parents or guardians of their rights in their native language, if possible, or provide interpreter services to ensure parents understand them.

Was this page helpful?