How do we define “appropriate” education?

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities have a right to a free, appropriate, public education. But how do we define what’s appropriate for each child that enters a school system and is in need of services?

Ideally, an Individualized Educational Program team collaborates to define what that individualized education should entail for each child. But collaboration doesn’t always result in agreement. Parents and the school system may not be able to come to an agreement and litigation may result.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling is a demonstration of how far parents are willing to go to secure what they perceive as an appropriate education for their child. Mr. and Ms. Winkelman felt that their son with autism needed to attend a specialized school for children with autism. The school district disagreed and litigation began.

The Winkelmans couldn’t afford an attorney, so Ms. Winkelman fought for the right to represent herself and her son in federal court –- how many of us would feel that passionate about a topic … to be willing to act as your own attorney in federal court! Ms. Winkelman was that passionate about securing what she felt was an appropriate education for her child.

For more information on special education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities, visit Wright’s Law.


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  1. Frans Says:

    I am very enthusiastic about education, that’s why I’m now a fine arts teacher

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