This means that children who are disabled are guaranteed free public education that will suit their needs. Going against this is considered a violation of their constitutional rights. The principle of zero reject is both a good social policy and a civil right under the equal protection doctrine, rooted in the social and individual utilitarianism of educating all students.

Zero reject applies to students aged between 3 and 21 years, irrespective of how severe their disability is. As defined by the IDEA, the goal of this principle is to ensure that all students (from 3 through 21 years) will have a free appropriate public education (FAPE) provided at public expense, no matter how severe their disabilities are. This principle is applicable for the state as well as all of its school districts, state-operated programs, like schools for students with auditory or visual impairments, private schools (in case the public system puts a student into a private school), psychiatric hospitals, and organizations for people with other disabilities.

To benefit from the zero reject principle, the following two eligibility criteria need to be met:

1.  A student must have a disability covered by the IDEA

2.      Due to the disability, the student requires special education and related services

Thus, under the IDEA, if no disability is determined, the student won’t have any right to receive special education or any additional assessment related to special education. However, if the evaluation reveals that the student has a disability, the evaluation process must classify special education, along with related services the student will get. This information is crucial to devise a suitable plan for the student’s education and decide where that student will be educated.

Under the zero reject principle, IDEA also regulates how students with disabilities are eligible for protection and how schools may discipline them using several general principles, some of which are:

·         No cessation: The school may not suspend or expel a student with a disability for over 10 school days in any single school year, irrespective of the violation of a school code.

·         Equal treatment: The school may, subject to special provisions, discipline students with disabilities to the same extent and in the same way as their counterparts without disabilities for the same offense.

·         Unique circumstances: To discipline a student with a disability, when the school is determining if it should change the student’s placement, it may take into account any unique circumstances relating to the student, including behavior in violating a school code.