Eligible students are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE includes special education and related services. Free means at public expense. Appropriate means in conformance with an IEP that meets legal requirements. Public means provided under public direction and supervision. Education includes preschool, elementary, and secondary, but not higher education. The district must provide related services that are necessary to assist the student to benefit from special education. If a student does not need special education he/she is not entitled to related services. In Idaho, speech-language therapy is defined as special education and can be a stand-alone service. Children ages 3 through 21 are eligible if they have a disability and need special education. The law lists specific disability categories including autism, deafness, blindness, developmental delay, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, cognitive retardation, orthopedic impairment, learning disability, traumatic brain injury and visual impairment. The law does not require the district to label a student by category of disability to provide services. A team of qualified professionals and the parent (the evaluation team) determines eligibility.
All age ranges of individuals who have, have had, or are regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity are protected. Life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for ones-self and performing manual tasks. The life activity that is affected does not have to be learning for a student to have 504 protections at school. To be protected, an individual must be "otherwise qualified" for the program or activity. Eligibility is determined by a team of people. It is best practice to include parents on the team but is not required. Substantially limits means that the student is: Unable to perform a major life activity that the average student of approximately the same age can perform OR Significantly restricted as to the condition, manner or duration under which a particular life activity is performed as compared to the average student of approximately the same age. The impairment must be substantial and somewhat unique rather than commonplace when compared to the average student of approximately the same age. We must discount from the analysis any sub-par performance due to other factors, such as a lack of motivation and the immediate situation or environment. We must make an educated estimate of the mitigation of medication.