Key Terms and Acronyms in Special Education Law



Free Appropriate Public Education

  • An educational right of children with disabilities in the United States that is guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • Provides educational protections for students who meet criteria necessary for classification in one of the thirteen categories specified under the act.


Individualized Education Program

  • A written statement detailing the unique educational needs and services provided to a student with a qualifying disability under IDEA.

Section 504

Anti-discrimination act

  • Protects students from discrimination based on their disability. Encompasses a broader range of disabilities than IDEA.

504 Plan

Document generated from Anti-discrimination act provisions

  • Documents strategies and resources afforded to a student with a disability affecting a major life activity in order to prevent discrimination in school.


Committee on Special Education (age 5-12)

  • A multidisciplinary team, that includes parents and students, responsible for students with disabilities from ages 5-21. The CSE is authorized to identify students in need of services by determining eligibility and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to meet each student’s individual needs.


Committee on Preschool Special Education (age 3-5)

  • Similar to CSE, for students ages 3-5.


Least Restrictive Environment

  • Under the IDEA students must be educated in a classroom setting as close to a general education setting as possible where than can still make academic gains.


Manifestation Determination Review

  • A meeting to determine whether or not a student’s misconduct is a result of their disability or school’s failure to implement their IEP when that student is facing a suspension that will exceed 5 days or has been removed from the classroom setting for 10 days (or the equivalent of 10 days).


Behavior Intervention Plan

  • A written plan that targets a student’s undesirable behavior(s) with interventions that are clearly measurable, including prevention strategies and replacement behaviors.


Functional Behavior Assessment

  • A process which examines a student’s disruptive behaviors, looks for the reasons behind the behaviors and offers interventions that teach new behaviors to replace the undesired ones.


Assistive Technology

  • Any device, equipment or software that helps a student with a disability increase, maintain or improve their functional capabilities (excludes medical devices).


Early Intervention (age 0-3)

  • A system of services that helps babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities from birth to their third birthdays.


Individualized Family Service Plan

  • A written treatment plan that maps out the early intervention services a child (age birth to his/her third birthday) will receive, as well as how and when these services will be administered. It details a child’s current levels of functioning, specific needs and goals for treatment (referred to as outcomes).


Regents Competency Test

  • Exit exams given to identified special education students with Individualized Education Programs or a 504 plan seeking a high school diploma who cannot pass the standard Regents exams.


A type of classroom structure common on an IEP or 504 plan consisting of 15 students, 1 teacher, and 1 aid.


A type of classroom structure common on an IEP or 504 plan consisting of 12 students, 1 teacher, and 1 aid.


A type of classroom structure common on an IEP or 504 plan consisting of 6 students, 1 teacher, and 1 aid.




(c) Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.


Last Review Date: June 2016




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