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Advancing the Human & Civil Rights of People with Disabilities in Illinois



African American Boy ReadingFind answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about special education. Just click on a question below to reveal the answer associated with it.

If your child needs special education because of a disability, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives you and your child certain rights:

  • Your child has the right to a free appropriate public education.
  • You do not have to pay any more for the education of your child with a disability than a parent would pay for the education of a nondisabled child.
  • The school cannot use your private insurance to pay for your child’s education and related services unless you agree.
  • If your child receives special education services, the school must give you notice in writing within a reasonable time before any meetings, and before any service your child receives is changed or denied. This notice must explain the procedures, the meeting or the proposed changes, and inform you of your rights.


An evaluation is a group of tests to show strengths and weaknesses. It is used to find your child’s learning needs and whether your child should receive special education services. It may also be called a case study evaluation.

To show that your child qualifies for special education services.  You may disagree with any part or all of the evaluation.

To show that your child needs special education services, to help create your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), and to set IEP goals.

The school district pays for the evaluation if it agrees that your child needs it.  You do not need to use your own money or insurance for the evaluation.

You, a teacher or school administrator, or someone who works with your child at a public agency.

Write a letter to the principal. Ask that your child be tested for special education services. Your letter should include:

  • Problems that your child has had
  • Steps you or the school have taken to help your child
  • That you agree the school can conduct the evaluation
  • Tests you want done
  • Tests you do not want done
  • That you want a copy of the school’s evaluation procedures
  • That you need a response within 14 school days

An IEP is a plan created to specifically address the needs of your child.  As a student with special needs, your child has a right to specialized instruction that allows him or her to make meaningful educational progress.  The law requires schools to provide what is appropriate or necessary but not what is best.

The IEP team consists of:

  • Parents
  • Student
  • Special education teacher
  • General education teacher
  • An administrator
  • Evaluators
  • Other service providers
  • Any other person you or the school choose to invite

The parts of the IEP include:

  • Present level of performance
  • Annual goals
  • Services
  • Modifications and accommodations
  • Placement
  • Transition planning

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Last updated: September 22, 2015

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