What is FAPE?


FAPE stands for Free Appropriate Public Education.

This is your child’s right to education, and is guaranteed by both IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

While this post will not go into detail about the differences between both legislation, let’s look at how FAPE is defined in both:


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The following information has been taken from the US. Dept of Education. For more detailed information please visit their site.

An appropriate education will include:

  • Education services designed to meet the individual education needs of students with disabilities as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met;

  • The education of each student with a disability with nondisabled students, to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the student with a disability;

  • Evaluation and placement procedures established to guard against misclassification or inappropriate placement of students, and a periodic reevaluation of students who have been provided special education or related services; and

  • Establishment of due process procedures that enable parents and guardians to: receive required notices; review their child’s records; and challenge identification, evaluation and placement decisions.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

FAPE is defined in IDEA at 20 U. S. C. § 1401(9).

The term ‘free appropriate public education’ means special education and related services that (a) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (b) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (c) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and (d) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under section 614(d).


 More information on FAPE in legislation can be found at:

Office For Civil Rights – FAPE

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act

Section 504 Fact Sheet

A Guide To Disabilities Rights Laws




Educational Setting

It should be documented where your child’s education will take place throughout the day. All options should be considered, and agreed upon.

For instance, what percentage of the day will your child spend in a Special Day Class (if any) and what percentage will be in a General Education classroom? What kind of Physical Education class will he/she be in? Will he/she be eating lunch with their peers? What setting will his class be in? Is this the school of residence? Etc.


Other Agencies

If your child receives services from any other agencies, this information should be documented in the IEP in order to better coordinate efforts to assist you both. Some of these services may include: California Children’s Services (CCS); Dept. of Social Services; Regional Center; Dept of Rehabilitation; County Mental Health; etc.


Progress Reporting

A detailed description of how you will be informed of your child’s development should be stated. This can be something as simple as a written progress report delivered to your home at the end of each quarter reporting period.


Transition Planning

Before your child turns sixteen years old, a transition plan should be created in order to prepare for life after high school. Transition plans, just like every other part of an IEP should be specific to your child’s needs and be individualized specifically for your child.

According to IDEA Legislation, “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:

  • Is designed to be within a results-oriented process.

  • Is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment); continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.

  • Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

[34 CFR 300.43 (a)] [20 U.S.C. 1401(34)]

This means that your child’s IEP should include a goal-oriented transition plan that is based on their needs, strengths, and preferences. It should have specific goals that your child will work on, and those goals are created in order to help your child’s adult skill set.

Personally, I think vocational goals are important to begin working on as early as possible. Skills such as typing, sorting, filing, cleaning, and social skills can be worked on as ‘free time’ activities, and then carried over and generalized to a vocational environment.


Graduation Plan

A graduation plan can be as detailed or open-ended as you like. In most cases, this will include an proposed graduation date, with a statement such as, “Johnny Smith is expected to graduate from high school in 06/2024.”

This is important because your child is eligible for Special Education benefits (i.e. schooling and services) until they are 22 years old.



If your child regresses during periods without instructional support, ESY may be necessary. ESY stands for extended school year, and must be free of charge.

One way to prove your child may regress or lose skills during times out of school, is to keep an eye on data. For instance, if your child is able to add single digit numbers with 80% accuracy across five consecutive days, then does not attend school for two weeks (winter vacation) and is only able to add with 40%, it may very well be the case that they need ESY.

The main goal of ESY is to prevent excessive regression of essential skills.

Every child, whether in Special Education or not, will have some degree of regression during off-school times as they are not practicing their skills regularly; however, ESY is for students who regress beyond what their school district outlines.



What Is An IEP?

Parts Of An IEP.

Timeline Of An IEP.

A Detailed Description of Present Levels.

Essential Parts of an IEP Goal.




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