The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that ensures all children with disabilities have access to a free public education, including special education and related services. The services provided under the umbrella of a free appropriate public education should meet the following requirements:

  1. They must be provided at no cost to the student;
  2. They must meet the standards of the State educational agency;
  3. They must provide a concurrent school education from the State; and
  4. They must implement these services as stated in the student’s individualized education program.

In addition to these requirements, the IDEA has set an age range to determine who is eligible for special education and related services.

A free appropriate public education as defined by the IDEA is available to all children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21, inclusive. However, the IDEA allows for each state to redefine whether age 21 is inclusive, meaning whether the services continue while the student is 21 or end at the time they turn 21. During the 91st General Assembly, Arkansas exercised their ability to redefine the age range. Arkansas Code § 6-41-205(a) now defines FAPE age as follows:

“(a) The state shall make available a free appropriate public education to each child with a disability from three (3) years of age until the end of the school year in which the child turns twenty-one (21) years of age.”

For some students, this could act as an inclusive age range. However, for example, the students who turn 21 in May would no longer be eligible to receive services the upcoming academic year. If your child is receiving special education and related services under the IDEA, please be sure to note this age range, so you can prepare a plan for transition at the appropriate time!

If you feel like your child’s rights are being violated under the IDEA, please contact Disability Rights Arkansas at (501) 492-5776.

For more information on special education and related services under the IDEA, check out our helpful publications, the DRA “Blue Book” and A Parent’s Guide to Special Education, available here: and