The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA 2004) is a United States law that mandates equity, accountability and excellence in education for children with disabilities. There are approximately 6.7 million children and youth with disabilities in public schools across the United States. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 3, 2004. It became effective July 1, 2005 with the exception of elements relating to the "highly qualified teacher". It authorizes formula grants to states, as well as discretionary grants for research, technology, and training. The latest revision of IDEA became effective in October 2006.

IDEA 1997 vs. IDEA 2004
Since IDEA began the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA)of 1975 has undergone several revisions since being signed into law. It was initially created to assure all children were receiving a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Updates are made approximately every five years or so. Changes were authorized in 2004. In 2006, additional changes were made to IDEA as final regulations were released. They required schools to use research based interventions in the process of assisting students with learning difficulties, or determining eligibility for special education. Many schools have implemented Response to Intervention (RTI) as a method of meeting the new requirements set by IDEA 2004.

Changes to the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Process
-Content of the IEP -These encompasses annual goals, short term objectives, educational progress, special education and related services, accommodations and alternative assessments, and transitions.
-IEP meeting attendance - A member of the IEP team may be excused if the team member's service will not be discussed at the meeting. This must be approved by the school and the parents.
-IEPs by agreement
-Review and revision of IEPs
-Transition - Clarifies that transition services should begin at age 16, and should include a list of interagency responsibilities with needed resources
-Alternate means of participating in meetings.

Changes to Due Process
Changes to due process include the following: Procedural Safeguards Notice only needs to be distributed once per year, Parents have two years to exercise due process rights, changes to the due process complaint notice procedure, parents must go through a mandatory resolution session before due process,responsibility for attorney's fees and requirements for hearing officers.

Changes to Student Discipline
1. Adds new authority for school staff to determine discipline on a case by case basis 2. New standards for manifestation determinations where the burden of proof has been shifted to the parents and must prove that the behavior was "caused by or had direct and substantial relationship to the child's disability", or was a "direct result of the LEA's failure to implement the IEP." 3. Adds a new standard for special