FAPE stands for a Free and Appropriate Public Education. For students with a disability it seems "very " diffficult to make educators as well as parents understand what this really means. To some it means that everything a student recieves in special education is free or without cost. To others it means that a student has to pay for what others pay for but is limited to things such as lunch, fees associated with labs, or an extracurricular activity that the student is involved in.
FAPE acutally means that we look at a student on an individual basis based on his or her individual assessment and educational needs. Parents and educators work together to create an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in an ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal) meeting. The IEP is centered around specifically designed instruction to meet the student where they are and have goals and specific objectives to meet those needs.
Because a student is in special education does not mean that everything she or he receives in school is is free. It does mean that there is no cost for a student to be in special education and if there is a fee that is incurred, it is the same cost that other students have in the general education classroom setting.
For more on this topic or other related special education topics, please call your local school district's special education department, educational service center, or Texas Education Agency,