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Know Your Rights

Three generations of men & boys
Three generations of men & boys

Your Rights Under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

As a parent, you have certain rights in the special education process. The IDEA Part B Notice of Procedural Safeguards explains these rights. Our Know Your Rights handout provides a summary of these rights. At the bottom of this page, you may download the full Procedural Safeguards and our Know Your Rights handout in English, Spanish, French, Amharic, Vietnamese, and Mandarin. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that explains how to serve children with disabilities. DC is required to identify all children with disabilities from ages 0-22. DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC Public Charter Schools identify children between the ages of 3 and 22. This includes DC children who do not yet attend school and out-of-state children who attend private schools in DC. By identifying children with disabilities, we can provide them with the support and services they need to succeed in school. Parent rights in the special education process include:  

  • The Local Education Agency (LEA) must provide Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all children. Children with disabilities may need special education services to access FAPE. Services include specialized instruction and/or related services. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) describes these services.

  • If your child has a disability, they must be taught in the same class as children without disabilities when possible. This is called the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

  • An evaluation determines if your child qualifies for services. You have the right to attend meetings about your child's evaluation and eligibility.

  • The LEA must fully inform you about what it plans to do during the special education process. This is called Prior Written Notice (PWN).

  • You must give consent before the LEA can do certain things. Your consent is your written permission. The LEA needs consent before starting an evaluation. The LEA also needs consent before providing services in school. You can take back consent at any time in the process. You must do so in writing.

  • You may ask for another evaluation if you disagree with the LEA's evaluation. This is called an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). An IEE is free.

  • You may file a due process complaint if you disagree with the LEA about (1) your child’s evaluation, (2) whether your child needs special education services, (3) how the LEA intends to provide services, or (4) your child's access to FAPE.

  • You have the right to receive copies of your child's school records. If you believe that the record is wrong, you have the right to ask the school to change it.

  • There are protections for children with disabilities who face school discipline. Review the full Notice of Procedural Safeguards for details.

Your Rights Under the DC Language Access Act

You have the right to access all our services in your primary language at no cost to you. This includes having the right to request a translator and to have any vital documents translated into your primary language. Visit the Office of Human Rights to learn more about your rights listed in the Language Access Act.

DCPS Notice of Non-Discrimination

District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) is committed to creating a discrimination-free environment. DCPS does not discriminate and does not tolerate discrimination in its education programs or activities (including employment therein or admission thereto) on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, disability, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment and sexual assault), age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, source of income, credit information, or status as a victim or family member of a victim of domestic violence, sexual offense or stalking. Learn more about the full Non-Discrimination policy and how to file a complaint on the DCPS website

Download our Know Your Rights handout and the Procedural Safeguards below: