Six Principles of IDEA

Six Principles of IDEA

ESE603: Law and Ethics in Special Education

Then and Now

Before 1975, students with disabilities have not received the appropriate education they have deserved. They were excluded from school and discriminated against because of their disability. Over the years, there have been laws that were put into place to serve those with disabilities and end the discrimination. The laws provided them with an equal and appropriate education and include the Individuals with Disabilities and Education Act (IDEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504.

Main Principles of IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act main goal is to provide students with disabilities a “free appropriate public education and to provide parents a voice in their child’s education” (Lee, 2019). Before IDEA, there were more than one million students with disabilities were placed in separate classes and discriminated against because of their disability. Students were not given a chance or were not provided with the appropriate services they needed to enhance their learning process (USDE, 2015).

The IDEA has six main principles: Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Appropriate Evaluation, Individualized Education Program (IEP), Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), Parent and Student Participation in Decision Making, and Procedural Safeguards. Students that are evaluated and found to have a disability should receive an IEP that is designed to meet the students individualized needs. They should be allowed to receive their education in the least restrictive environment appropriate which allows them to remain in general education classes and be pulled aside for one-on-one if needed. Parents and the students should have the right to be involved in the decision making process. Parents have the right to receive a notice when a disability is suspected and they also have the right to consent to testing, evaluations, and meetings. Procedural safeguards were put into place to ensure that the students and parents rights were being protected (CentralFloridaParentCenter, n.d.).

Not every child is eligible for services under the IDEA; however, there are 13 categories listed such as “Autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, orthopedic impairment, other health impairments (ADHD), specific learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia), speech language impairment (SLI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and visual impairment including blindness” (Lee, 2019). Just because a student has a disability does not mean they will qualify for services. For example, if you have a student with ADHD, but they are advancing from grade to grade without any problems then they do not need services. On the other hand, if the student with ADHD was struggling then they will qualify for assistance under the IDEA.

Main Purpose of Section 504

The main goal of a 504 Plan is ensure that students are successful in school. According to Understood Team (2019), “504 plans are formal plans that schools develop to give kids with disabilities the supports they need. These plans prevent discrimination and protect the rights of kids with disabilities in school”. They are not the same as an IEP because they are covered by different laws and work differently and protect kids that do not qualify for IDEA (Stansberry, 2015).

They are provided accommodations to enhance their learning in the classroom. Students with ADHD get easily distracted and for them they may require sitting closer to the front to concentrate better. A student with dyslexia may require speech recognition software to help them write papers and complete assignment. Whether they need additional time on tests, appropriate seating arrangements, use of assistive technology, or speech and language therapy a 504 plan will provide the assistance the student needs.

Primary protections of ADA

The Americans with Disabilities Act “prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public” (ADANetwork, 2019). This law enforces that those with disabilities are provided with the same services and rights as those that do not have disabilities. The purpose of the ADA is to “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.” (Osborne & Russo, 2014, Chapter 1.3, para. 37).

The ADA is divided into five titles that relate to different areas of public life. Title I-employment, Title II-public services: state and local government, Title III-public accommodations and services operated by private entities, Title IV- Telecommunications, and Title V-Miscellaneous provisions. Title I- “helps people with disabilities have the same employment opportunities and benefits as others” (ADANetwork, 2019), Title II- “Requires public entities to make their programs, services and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities” (ADANetwork, 2019), Title III- “Prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Public accommodations include privately owned, leased or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters, and so on” (ADANetwork, 2019), Title IV- “Requires telephone and Internet companies to provide a nationwide system of interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services that allows individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the telephone. Requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements” (ADANetwork, 2019), Title V- “Contains a variety of provisions relating to the ADA as a whole, including its relationship to other laws, state immunity, its impact on insurance providers and benefits, prohibition against retaliation and coercion, illegal use of drugs, and attorney’s fees” (ADANetwork, 2019).

Compare ADA, Section 504, and IDEA

IDEA, Section 504, and ADA all work together to eliminate discrimination against those with disabilities. “IDEA protects students with disabilities and guarantees them with the right to a free appropriate public education. 504 is a civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance. While ADA prohibits discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employment, public services, and accommodations” (DRDEF, 2019).

Summarize the differences of ADA, Section 504, and the IDEA

There are several similarities amongst the three, yet there are also differences between them. IDEA and 504 both provide students with a free appropriate public education while ADA does not. Both IDEA receives federal funds for Part B and C, 504 are controlled by state and local government. IDEA requires written notice to parents regarding identification, evaluation, and placement while 504 only recommends written notice. ADA does not require procedural safeguards. IDEA requires parental consent for evaluation, 504 requires a notice but not consent, while ADA does not have placement procedures (DREDF, 2019).

In conclusion, there were laws that were put into place to eliminate discrimination amongst those with disabilities. IDEA gave students with disabilities the opportunity to receive a free appropriate education, Section 504 assisted students with disabilities that were not covered under the IDEA, ADA protects the rights of those with disabilities and prohibits discrimination in the workforce. Before these laws were passed, millions of individuals were not receiving the appropriate help they needed to be successful in our everyday world. Now we have students that are being tested earlier and the appropriate accommodations are being made so they can enhance their learning process.


A Comparison of ADA, IDEA, and Section 504. (2019). In DREDF. Retrieved from

An Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act. (2019). In ADANetwork. Retrieved from

Central Florida Parent Center (n.d.) The six main principles of IDEA. Retrieved from

Lee, A. (2019). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): What You Need to Know. In Understood. Retrieved from

Osborne, A. G., & Russo, C. J. (2003). Special education and the law: A guide for practitioners (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Stansberry, K. (2015). Understanding 504 plans. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education. (2015). Thirty-five years of progress in educating children with disabilities through IDEA– Pg 10. Retrieved from