Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Special education was strongly influenced by social developments and court decisions in the 1950s and 1960s, especially the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954). This case challenged the practice of segregating students according to race. In its ruling in the Brown case, the US Supreme Court declared that education must be made available to all children on equal terms. Another landmark case affecting students with disabilities came along in 1972, when a group of parents of children with disabilities filed a class action law suit against the state of Pennsylvania. This case was Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PARC won the case. Not only did the court rule that all children with mental retardation were entitled to a free, appropriate public education, but the ruling also stipulated that placements in regular classrooms and regular public schools were preferable to segregated settings.
In 1975 the US Congress passed Public Law 94-142, , a landmark piece of legislation that has changed the face of education. This law has been reauthorized and amended four times, most recently in 1997. It is now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There are six major principles of IDEA.
Zero Reject:Schools must educate all children with disabilities. This principle applies regardless of the nature and severity of the disability.
Nondicriminatory Identification and Evaluation: Schools must use nonbiased, multifactored methods of evaluation to determine whether a child has a disability and, if so, whether special education is needed.
Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE): A fape must be provided to all children with disabilities at public expense-that is, without cost to the child's parents. An inidvidual education program (IEP) must be developed and implemented for each student with a disability. The IEP must be individually designed to meet the child's unique needs.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): IDEA mandates that students with disabilities be educated with children without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate and that students with disabilities be removed to separate classes or schools only when the nature or severity of their disabilities is such that they cannot receive FAPE in a general education classroom with supplementary aides and services. To ensure that each student with disabilities is educated in the lre appropriate for his/her needs, schools must provide a continuum of placement and service alternatives.
Due Process Safeguards: Parental consent must be obtained for initial and all subsequent evaluations and placement decisions regarding special education.
Parent and Student Participation and Shared Decision Making: Schools must collaborate with parents and students with disabilities in the design and implementation of special education services.