School Business Affairs May 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | MAY 2020 33 legal issues The basics of the IDEA and what SBOs need to know. SBOs and the IDEA: A Primer By Charles J. Russo, J.D., Ed.D., and Allan G. Osborne Jr., Ed.D. F ollowing up on last month’s col- umn, this article focuses on the Individuals with Disabilities Edu- cation Act (IDEA), highlighting cost provisions that should be of interest to school business officials (SBOs) and other education leaders. The legislation was enacted in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Chil- dren Act; Congress changed its name to the IDEA in 1990. The IDEA has been revised four times since its enactment (1986, 1990, 1997, and 2004). The most recent version became effective almost 15 years ago—on July 1, 2005. As a condition of receiving federal funds, the IDEA and its regulations require states—through local education agencies or school boards—to identify, assess, and serve all children with disabilities in their districts, including those in nonpublic schools, regardless of the severity of the stu- dents’ needs. Eligibility To qualify for IDEA services, students must meet four requirements: 1. Be between the ages of 3 and 21 (stu- dents are considered 21 until the end of the academic year in which they turn 21); 2. Have “intellectual disabilities, hear- ing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), seri- ous emotional disturbance, orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or spe- cific learning disabilities”; 3. Need special education, meaning a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) in the “least restrictive environment,” directed by the individualized education program (IEP); and 4. Need related services, such as transporta- tion, interpreting services, psychologi- cal services, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, or audiology services. Moreover, under the IDEA’s “zero-reject” approach, educators must serve all children with disabilities, regardless of cost ( Timo- thy W. v. Rochester, N.H., School District 1989a, 1989b). Identification and Assessment The IDEA directs states to establish proce- dures to identify and evaluate all children with disabilities. When selecting and admin- istering testing and evaluation materials, officials must use procedures that are nei- ther racially nor culturally biased. Students whose languages or other modes of commu- nication are not English must be evaluated in their native tongues or by other methods of communication, such as sign language. Evaluation procedures must be multidisciplinary such that no single test can serve as the basis for deciding whether students are entitled to IDEA services. Evaluation procedures must be multidis- ciplinary such that no single test can serve as the basis for deciding whether students are entitled to IDEA services. School offi- cials must reevaluate all children with dis- abilities at least every three years but can do so sooner if they think it necessary or if parents make such requests. School officials must complete all evaluations of students suspected of having disabilities within 60 BBOURDAGES/STOCK.ADOBE.COM