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History of Special Education Law

  • Brown v. Board of Education

    In May of 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously voted that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional, as it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Officially outlawed segregation and discrimination In American overall but for our focus in special education law, this was a huge step for schools.
  • Elementary & Secondary Education act of 1965

    President Lyndon B. Johnson signed this act, providing new grants and funding to low-income students. It also included the creation of some of the first publicly funded special education centers.
  • PARC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

    The case between the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania lead to a ruling that the state needed to provide a free public education to all children regardless of having a disability or not.
  • Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act

    This was one of the first federal laws that guaranteed protection and rights for people suffering from disabilities. It set the bar for similar and related acts such as IDEA and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Education for All Handicapped Children Act

    EAHCA made it a mandate that all public schools needed to provide an equal education to those students with a handicapped disability in order to keep receiving funding.
  • Compulsory Attendance Laws in the U.S.

    States began mandating that children attend school from about age 6 to 17. Although this became the law in most states over time, there was no system set in place for those with disabilities. More times than not, they were not expected to attend, as they were not provided the proper attention or education, and many were concerned that those with handicapped issues would be a distraction. It wasn’t until 1975 when the EAHCA provided those with disabilities the equal right to an education.
  • Armstrong v. Kline

    In order for schools to receive federal funding, states were required to provide an appropriate public education to all students. However, Pennsylvania had established a policy refusing to provide educational resources to anyone in excess of 180 days per year. The court ruled that the lack of flexibility that the capped 180 day policy provided was unconstitutional, as it did not lend itself to students with IEPs to obtain a reasonable education past the 180 days.
  • Hendrick Hudson v. Rowley

    Amy Rowley, a deaf student, was denied access to an interpreter by the school district. Rowley was a good student and good at reading lips so the school felt she was adequate enough to get by without assistance. Her parents sued the school due to violation of IDEA given that their daughter was no given the opportunity to reach her full educational potential. The district court ruled in Rowley’s favor however the Supreme Court later reversed the decision.
  • Irving Independent School District v. Tatro

    The Supreme Court unanimously decided that clean intermittent cauterization (CIC) was a “related service” under the Education of the Handicapped Act. The Act required Texas to provide handicapped children with a free public education including “related services.” Therefore, a layperson needed to perform CIC during the school day since the child would not be able to attend school and benefit from special education without CIC.
  • School Committee of the Town of Burlington v. Department of Education of Massachusetts

    The Supreme Court unanimously decided that parents who unilaterally place their child in a different school, even if going against an IEP proposal, may be reimbursed if the parents’ placement is deemed to be the most appropriate available option.
  • Honig v. DOE

    The majority the of Supreme Court decided that the "stay-put" provision, which lets a handicapped child stay at his or her school during review proceedings, of the Education of the Handicapped Act prohibited state or local school authorities from excluding disabled children from the classroom even for dangerous or disruptive conduct resulting from their disabilities.
  • Daniel R.R. v. State board of Education

    The Court agreed with the school that the Least Restrictive Environment for a Down syndrome child was an early childhood special education class, not a general classroom.
  • Oberti v. Clementon Board of Education

    Rafael, a young boy with Downs Syndrome, was in kindergarten when the district declared he was too unruly in a regular education class to be a part of it. There was no special education class at his school so he would need to go elsewhere. Oberti’s parents sued the district on their child’s behalf, feeling that he was capable of learning in a “mainstream” class. The courts ruled in his favor, stating that there was not enough proof that his behavior was disruptive enough to be segregated out.
  • Board of Education in Sacramento v. Holland

    A child’s parents wanted her to be placed in a gen ed class, but the school disagreed that the child would benefit from this.The court released a test to determine where a child should be placed: The education benefits of the classroom with supplementary aids and services as compared with the educational benefits of the special classroom, the effect of the student's presence on the teacher and on other students, and the cost of mainstreaming. The court sided with the parents
  • IDEA Amendment (1997)

    Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) was put into effect, raising the standards for schools and their policies With special education.
  • Cedar Rapids v. Garrett F.

    Disable student Garrett F requires a ventilator and uses a wheel chair regularly and needs access to both as well as one on one medical assistance in order to attend school. The district refused to pay the cost to provide the medical assistance, violating IDEA. The courts ruled in favor of Garrett, saying that the burden of the costs did not outweigh the need for his assistance in order to have an equal opportunity for an education
  • No Child Left Behind Act

    This act required state-wide testing across the country for grades 3-8 and one year of high school. The testing provided a measurement of the education gap among students in attempts to provide an equal education for everyone.
  • IDEA Amendment of 2004

    This amendment restructured IEP standards with the option to continuously revise the plans. There were also new implementation of new methods to assisting students with disabilities called Response to Intervention (RTI)
  • Every Student Succeeds Act

    Replacing No Child Left Behind, this act was signed by Barack Obama as an attempt to further provide an equal and quality education for all public school students grades k-12. This act provided more input from parents and guardians about their child’s education. This act was established partly to hold schools accountable for instilling quality education for all with tangible statistics being documented to measure success.
  • Endrew v. Douglas County

    The family of Endrew F, who is Autistic, felt that his public education was not sufficient enough, opting to place him in a private school. The school district refused to pay for his tuition and his parents sued but their case was ultimately rejected by an administrative law judge, claiming that the FAPE provided to him met the standards required. However the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Endrew. The court cited the Hendrick Hudson v. Rowley case as precedent for the ruling.