Thursday, September 28, 2006

FAPE 'em

Recently I noticed a colleague heard FAPE used as a verb. Free appropriate public education (FAPE) is mandated in IDEA for students with disabilities. This was the first time that it was made explicit in federal law that students with disabilities had to be educated at public expense in an appropriate manner. And remember, IDEA was passed in 1990 so...rather recently. As noted elsewhere, the word "appropriate" is rather, well, inappropriate because it's so open to interpretation. However, what might be even more inappropriate is the use of FAPE I have recently heard at meetings of the special ed teachers in my district. The usage went like this:

"So what happens when a student attending private school does not come to the nearest public school for his special education services [as mandated in our state guidelines]?" asked one special ed teacher.

Replied the special education program manager, "You FAPE 'em. Send the FAPE letter [a district-wide standardized letter] indicating that we stand ready to provide FAPE whenever he might begin to show up for his services."

And that made me think that's what we're doing to our students all the time - FAPEing them. Modified your curriculum! You've been FAPEd. Provided alternate setting for your test! Consider yourself FAPEerized! FAPE up to the facts!

Note on 10/6/06: Earlier this week at a district training of all SPED teachers and related service providers the phrase "Fape 'em" was used repeatedly by folks at all levels. So clearly this is part of the lingo that as a newbie I'm just not familiar with.

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