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IDEA Regulations

What is IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is our nation’s special education law. IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free and appropriate public education. IDEA guides the way states and school districts provide special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities. The state education agency is charged with full implementation and enforcement of the federal mandate.
IDEA specifies which disabilities the states must serve. The statute requires that ALL eligible children and youth be identified and provided appropriate services. A multidisciplinary team (the IEP team) develops an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each child who is eligible. To be eligible, a child must:

  • Be determined to be a child with a disability; and
  • Be determined to need special education and related services in order to make progress in the general education curriculum

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Office of Special Education (OSE) provide support and services for children and youth with disabilities ages 3–21.  A free appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided to eligible children according to federal statute and regulations as well as state statute, administrative rules, and department procedures.

According to MDE, “the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) established two separate age segments for students with special needs. Part B refers to special education services for students ages 3 through 21. Part C refers to early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities from birth to age 3.

“Michigan special education services extend from birth through 25 (beyond the federal requirement of 21). That means Michigan’s special education services and programs serve eligible students ages birth through 25.”

Additional Resources

Family Matters 

Family Matters is an initiative of the Michigan Department of Education's Office of Special Education offering resources and information to families of children in special education. 

What is IDEA - English Version

What is IDEA - Arabic Version

What is IDEA - Spanish Version

Center for Parent Information and Resources

The (CPIR) is your central "Hub" of information and products created by the network of Parent Centers serving families of children with disabilities. Family-friendly information and research-based materials on key topics and more. 

Find Your Parent Center

Families with a child who has a disability often need information about the disability of their child, about early intervention, school services, therapy, local policies, transportation, and much more. Every State has at least one Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) to offer families just this kind of information. 

Parent Preschool Advocacy Brief (PDF) 

Download the Preschool Services Parent Advocacy Brief offered by the National Center for Learning Disabilities to learn about preschool special education services. 

View special education documents such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education (MARSE). 

Part B, Section 619 of IDEA (preschool services for children with disabilities) 

Learn about special education services for preschoolers with disabilities.  That part of the IDEA law is referred to Part B, Section 619 of IDEA.