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Overview of Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

(916 reviews)

Produced on June 20, 2016

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Course Information

Time 1h 32m
Difficulty Beginner
Topics covered in this course: Education Public Interest

Course Description

The express purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to “ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living[.]” 20 U.S.C. §1400(d)(1)(A).

The IDEA is sometimes misunderstood as a civil rights statute guaranteeing equal access to education for children with learning and other disabilities. In actuality, the Act is a federal discretionary grants program in which states can – theoretically –  choose to participate. As famously interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Rowley, 485 U.S. 176 (1982), Congress’ legislative intent was to provide disabled students with “access,” not equal access, and “appropriate education” means receiving some specialized education services, rather than enabling each child with disabilities to maximize his or her academic potential.

Although the key concept of the Act – Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – does comprise a set of substantive rights for children with disabilities, the main legislative thrust of IDEA is to provide families with procedural safeguards in the event of a disagreement between the parents or legal guardians of a child with disabilities, on the one hand, and the school or school district on the other hand. The promulgation of such procedural safeguards is left up to the states.

As part of this course, we examine some state-specific procedural safeguards and review the practical aspects of representing children with disabilities and their parents at every step of the special education process, from navigating a Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting, to obtaining an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE), to filing Due Process complaints, to handling an Impartial Hearing and subsequent steps in administrative and judicial review. We also briefly examine the fascinating history and legal theory behind the present iteration and interpretation of the Act, and take note of frequently occurring special situations.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn the history of the IDEA and distinguish between the substantive and procedural protections provided by the Act
  2. Understand procedural safeguards and provide practical guidance to representing children with disabilities and their families in special education proceedings before the school district, including due process complaints and impartial hearings
  3. Examine two common special situations under the Act: the peculiar circumstances of children with “invisible” communication disabilities such as hearing impairment, and the rights of parents to seek tuition reimbursement if a child has been placed in a so-called “non-approved” private school 

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Samuel Drukman

Drukman Law

Samuel Leonard Drukman, Esq., is an experienced litigator and legal counselor practicing primarily in the areas of Education Law, Labor and Employment Law and Workers’ Compensation Defense, as well as general and commercial litigation.

Prior to opening his own practice, Sam Drukman had worked for almost a decade at one of New York metro area’s established boutique law firms dedicated almost entirely to litigation. There, Sam was involved directly in all phases of labor, civil rights, commercial, and consumer litigation in Federal and State courts, representation of businesses and employers before the Workers’ Compensation Board, as well as appellate work, licensing, and regulatory agency proceedings. One of the decisions in a case argued by Sam before the Appellate Division Second Department had been published in New York Jurisprudence, 2d Edition. Sam had received open praise from a New York State trial court judge for his superior preparation and presentation skills.

Sam’s practice has also been characterized by passion and commitment to education issues facing students with special needs and their families. From helping families navigate the often complex process of having a child “classified” as eligible to receive necessary and appropriate special education services, to pursuing legal remedies on behalf of students suffering psychological or physical injuries as a result of bullying or neglect in public schools, Sam Drukman has been a knowledgeable and compassionate advocate for children in the New York City metro area. Teachers and college students facing disciplinary charges up to and including termination or expulsion have also turned to Sam Drukman for experienced legal counsel and representation in challenging situations.


seth f.


Christa M.

Very well done.

Warren F.

Excellent balance in a detailed area

Richelle H.

The lecture was very informative and helpful.

Adam L.

very nice course

Karen G.

Great presentation

John S.

Very knowledgeable presenter.

Robert R.

Excellent Course

William K.

Very thorough

Suzanne M.

Helpful and very clear and understandable speaker.

Kenneth B G.

Outstanding! One of the best CLE webinars I have taken!

Sarah E.

I really appreciated this lecture, not just as an attorney, but as a parent at the beginning of this process.

Jeanne N.

thorough pleasant manner good materials

Christopher R.

Mr. Druckman is very knowledgeable and explained the applicable law and practice clearly

edward s.


Jeanne B.

It was a very clear, informative, and enjoyable presentation

Lisa D.

Very enlightening.

Joanna R.

Excellent course on a very important subject. Well presented.

Walter F.

Excellent materials and presentation. Thank you.

Robyn R.

Instructor was passionate, knowledgeable, engaging, and clear. Great!

Peter S.

Excellent presentation! I found the Speaker's analogy to Insurance Law very helpful!

Christa R.

Excellent introduction to special education law. I appreciated both the legal and practical information provided about these types of cases.

Michael V.

It was very informative.

Jonathan A.


Victor L.

very good lecturer. He was articulate and concise.

David Y.

Excellent program!

Randy H.

I found the content to be very worthwhile.

Veliz P.

Very engaging speaker!

Sachin D.

This was a wonderful course. Clear and laden with real world experience while providing the solid black letter legal foundation. What a find.

Amy C.

Really excellent and clear presentation of a significant amount of material!

Julie A.

Excellent course. Very interesting and informative

Susan H.

Great program. I hope he does more educational law programs.

Zenali T.

The lecturer was excellent

Terri W.

Best Lawline course I have viewed thus far.

Alexis R.

This was one of the best prepared and most thorough presentations I have seen in the many years I have used Lawline.

Deanna M.

This was the BEST lecture on this topic.

Erica C.

This was fantastic. I found this to be one of the best lawline CLE's I've taken. Very useful and practical for those with an interest in education law and rights.



Diane B.

Very knowledgeable presenter. Thanks!

Gina F.

I have had personal experience.with my child and found this very clearly presented and clarified the due process procedures.

Jennifer J.

One of the best CLEs I have taken

John M.

I've been through the IEP process with my son, and this program was right on.

Allen B.

Good overview.

Rubain D.

Extremely thorough

Scott F.

I would recommend this program as both an attorney and a parent of a special needs child.

Idalia L.

This provided a good introduction to the law on special education.

Catherine H.

He was a great speaker. Well prepared. Knowledgeable. Offered practical advice based on real pratice experience.

David T.

Great overview of law

Julia K.

Excellent course.

Paul S.

Great program Mr. Drukman!

Julie P.

Very good overview.

Christopher J.

Technical but understandable

Terence Z.

The presenter has a nice delivery style and good knowledge. He keeps the listener's attention and transfers significant material. Well done.

Hillary A.

Great intro to IDEA! I found myself very intrigued by this practice area after listening. The presenter was knowledgeable, professional yet interesting to listen to! Thanks.

Torrey H.

very informative

Katina W.

I really liked this particularly speaker and the way he went through the material!

Sandra S.

Excellent synopsis of a very complex area of law - very helpful!

Deborah F.

Very relevant and helpful to me as a Mom of a child with severe and profound Downs Syndrome.

Carolyn N.

Excellent! I am a special education attorney for parents. I have been practicing for over 10 years and found this seminar very informative.

Catherine A. C.

This was an EXCELLENT presentation. I highly recommend it!

Tanya J.

Excellent! Great practical points!

Virginia J.


Anne B.

Excellent presentation.

Candace F.

Thank you1 This was a very thorough and concise overview of the IDEA. I also appreciate the discussion re the ADA and it's potential overlap with IDEA claims. Excellent presentation!

Kathleen D.


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