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  • Writer's pictureAshley Carol

What is FAPE and who qualifies for it?

Updated: Nov 16, 2023


Does my child qualify for FAPE?

Your child is eligible for a free appropriate public education (FAPE) if you live in the United States and they are of school age.


The United States Constitution and federal law provide all children, including those without disabilities, the right to a free, appropriate public education. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which ensures that all children, regardless of their skills or impairments, have the right to equal access to a public education, is the cornerstone of this provision. A public education is also guaranteed for all children under a number of federal education statutes, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).


What modifications does FAPE make for a child with a disability?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) expands and defines the Free Appropriate Public Education obligation for students with disabilities (IDEA). This law mandates that public schools offer an individualized educational program, or IEP, that is specifically designed to suit the needs of children with disabilities. The IEP procedure entails the creation of a unique plan for every child that identifies their assets and areas for improvement, establishes academic and functional objectives, and specifies the special education and related services they will receive. Additionally, IDEA stipulates procedural safeguards to ensure that families and children with disabilities can meaningfully participate in the IEP formulation process and raise objections.

The rules and rights for children with disabilities are therefore more detailed and robust under IDEA, even though all children are entitled to a FAPE.


Should children with disabilities be taught in a general education classroom?

Certainly, as long as it is reasonable, children with disabilities have a right to be included in general education classes under IDEA. This is known as the "least restrictive environment" (LRE) principle, which states that children with disabilities should be educated alongside their peers who are not disabled whenever possible and should only be separated for special education services when their disability is so severe or of such a nature that learning in the general classroom cannot be accomplished successfully. IDEA mandates that the LRE principle be kept in mind when creating each child's IEP and that the IEP team take into account the child's need for special education and related services in relation to their capacity to succeed in a general education setting. Generally speaking, the objective is to provide as much interaction and engagement with their non-disabled peers as possible while still giving students with disabilities the support they require to succeed in the general education classroom.



What are some advantages of an inclusive classroom for children in a general education classroom?

  1. Improved knowledge and empathy: Children who are not impaired can learn about and grow in their awareness of people who are different from them, encouraging a more inclusive and tolerant society.

  2. The development of good social and communication skills: can help children without disabilities interact with and assist their peers who have difficulties.

  3. Exposure to a diversity of talents, experiences, and ways of thinking: Students in inclusive classes are exposed to a range of abilities, views, and modes of thought, which broadens their outlook and aids in their ability to grasp the world in new ways.

  4. Getting ready for diversity in the real world: Children who experience variety in inclusive classrooms are better prepared to succeed in a diverse society as adults.

  5. Increased academic performance: Research has shown that inclusive classrooms tend to have all kids perform academically better, therefore inclusive learning environments can also help children without impairments. A variety of abilities in the class can also present difficulties and chances for personal development for all pupils.


Take Aways

It's crucial to realize that every child has a legal right to a Free Appropriate Public Education, regardless of their talents or limitations. Despite the fact that FAPE may take on diverse forms for children with disabilities, it must be customized to fit their unique needs and give them access to the same high-quality education as their peers without disabilities. Children with and without disabilities can learn, develop, and flourish together in inclusive classrooms, fostering a more welcoming and inclusive society. We can enable all children to realize their full potential and have a good impact on the world by giving them the tools and encouragement they require to succeed.


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