History of Special Education Laws in the USA

  • First Special Education Programs in the USA

  • Schools for Students with Disabilities

    Special schools for deaf, blind, and mentally challenge students became more common.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

    A landmark Supreme Court case ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, violating the 14th Amendment. Separate but equal education was not equal. It was about racial equality, but it came to include all students, including those with special needs. Education "must be made available to all on equal terms." Many lawsuits followed this that helped make more special education available.
  • Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

    Was part of President Johnson's "War on Poverty" program to ensure that disadvantaged and underprivileged students had access to quality education, including those with special needs.
  • Fred Rogers testifies before Congress

    Fred Rogers testifies before Congress
    "In 1969, Rogers—who was relatively unknown at the time—went before the Senate to plead for a $20 million grant for public broadcasting, which had been proposed by President Johnson but was in danger of being sliced in half by Richard Nixon. His passionate plea about how television had the potential to turn kids into productive citizens worked; instead of cutting the budget, funding for public TV increased from $9 million to $22 million." [source: MentalFloss.com]
  • P.A.R.C. (Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children) vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

    Children with mental retardation are entitled to a free, public education. "Twenty-seven federal court cases followed the P.A.R.C. and Mills decisions, leading to the pressure of federal laws guaranteeing a public education for all children."
    [source: https://disabilityjustice.org/right-to-education/]
  • Mills vs. Board of Education, DC

    Even if students with disabilities can't pay for their public special education, they are still entitled to it.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

    "Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance..." It led to ADA. [source: https://dredf.org/legal-advocacy/laws/section-504-of-the-rehabilitation-act-of-1973/]
    A student must have a disability AND NOT need special education. It covers parents needs to participate, such as having an interpreter at a meeting.
  • EAHCA/EHA Education for All Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142)

    Four Purposes:
    "to assure that all children with disabilities have available to them…a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs"
    "to assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents…are protected"
    "to assist States and localities to provide for the education of all children with disabilities"
    "to assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate all children with disabilities"
  • LRE - Guiding Principal in IDEA

    • Students with disabilities receive their education alongside their peers without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate.
    • Students should not be removed from the general education classroom unless learning cannot be achieved even with the use of supplementary aids and services.
  • Signing of the 1977 HEW Health, Education, and Welfare regulations

    A sit-in and demonstrations in San Francisco and Washington DC, in 1977, changed the course of civil rights history, and resulted in the signing of the 1977 Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. [source: https://dredf.org/legal-advocacy/laws/section-504-of-the-rehabilitation-act-of-1973/]
  • Armstrong v. Kline: The 180 Day Rule

    This case hi-lights the conflict between the 180 day rule and the statutory mandate of "free appropriate public education." That court held a state’s refusal to pay for more than 180 days of schooling each year for severely and profoundly retarded and severely emotionally disturbed children violated their rights to an appropriate education under federal law. The Extended School Year (ESY) concept was born. [source: https://www.thearcoakland.org/programs-services/special-education-law/]
  • S-l v. Turlington

    Regarding the disciplining of disabled students:
    Nine "mentally retarded students sued Florida's commissioner of education, Ralph D. Turlington, [saying] they had been improperly expelled from school." A federal appellate court ruled that "handicapped children are entitled to more detailed procedural protections than are non-handicapped students facing exclusion from school." Critics say a double-standard was established.
    [source: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1982/02/24/01220062.h01.html]
  • Hendrick Hudson Central School District vs. Rowley

  • Roncker v. Walter

    "The court developed the following two-part test to guide the appropriate placement for a student with a disability: (1) Can the educational services that make the segregated setting superior be feasibly provided in a nonsegregated setting? (If so, the segregated placement is inappropriate.) (2) Is the student being mainstreamed to the maximum extent appropriate?" [source: https://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e629.html]
  • Irving vs. Tatro

    Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger held that Amber Tatros, a student with a neurogenic bladder could receive clean intermittent catheterization (CIC), a required 'related service" under EHA. The Tatros family could not seek attorneys' fees through the Rehabilitation Act.
    [source: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1983/83-558]
  • Burlington School Committee of the Town of Burlington, MA v. Department of Education of Massachusetts

  • EHA 1986 Amendments

    EHA originally provided services for children with disabilities from age 3-21, the amendments mandated that states provide services from birth.
  • Honig v. Doe

    Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan held that:
    1. A claim brought under the Education of the Handicapped Act is moot if the claimant is over the age of 21.
    2. The "stay-put" provision of the Education of the Handicapped Act prevents a school district from indefinitely suspending a student whose handicap-related misconduct endangered the student and others.
    [source: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1987/86-728]
  • Spielberg v. Henrico Public Schools

    Based on EAHCA/EHA, states provide students with a free appropriate public education ("FAPE"). An IEP is created for each student with disabilities by school officials and the child's parents. Educational placement is based on the IEP.
    This case held tha t"predetermining a child's placement before developing an IEP violates the parental participation requirements of the IDEA." [source: https://casetext.com/case/spielberg-v-henrico-county-public-schools?resultsNav=false]
  • Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Education

    This landmark case was about providing the least restrictive environment and mixing a student's environment to have her be in mainstream when she is able and have her be in a special education classroom when that makes the most sense for her. [source: www.k12academics.com]
  • Timothy W. v. Rochester, New Hampshire School

    The "U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals...ruled that...school boards were required to provide special-education services to any disabled student regardless of the severity of his or her disabilities." [source: Britannica]
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    -Ensures that all children with disabilities:
    1. receive special education and related services...
    2. be prepared for employment and independent living.
    3. their rights and their families are protected under the law.
    -Assesses and ensures the efforts of institutions providing services to persons with disabilities.
    -Provides assistance to...agencies in providing for the education of children with disabilities.
    [source: https://www.washington.edu]
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    Section 504 of the Rehab Act is a civil rights law protecting people
    "from discrimination for reasons related to their disabilities." The ADA broadened the agencies and businesses that must comply to Section 504 to "all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places...open to the...public...to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else."
    [source: https://adata.org/learn-about-ada]
  • Greer v. Rome

    "..Christy Greer, who had an IQ of 40, was to be placed in a self-contained...classroom. The parents objected ...the court [ruled in favor of the parents.] From this case, the concept of the "continuum of placement options" was developed. Before moving down the continuum to a more restrictive placement, the IEP committee must at least consider, discuss, and justify not placing a student in the general education classroom."
    [source: https://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e629.html]
  • Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District

    A school district must provide an interpreter for a deaf student regardless of what school the student attends. "The service at issue in this case is part of a general government program that distributes benefits neutrally to any child qualifying as 'handicapped' under the IDEA, without regard to the 'sectarian-nonsectarian, or public-nonpublic nature' of the school the child attends," wrote Chief Justice Rehnquist. [source: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1992/92-94]
  • Florence County School District Four v. Carter

    Sandra Day O'Connor ruled that a court may "order reimbursement for parents who withdrew their child from a public school providing an inappropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and put the child in a private school that is in substantial - but not complete - compliance with the act..."
    [source: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1993/91-1523]
  • K.R. v. Anderson Community School Corporation

    "Determining that the IDEA and its regulations do not require a public school to make 'comparable provisions for a disabled student voluntarily attending private school as for disabled public school students.'" [source: https://casetext.com/case/kr-v-anderson-community-school-corporation]
  • Emma C. v. Delaine Eastin, et al. 1996

    A class action lawsuit filed by eight students in 1996 on behalf of hundreds of children with disabilities in the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto, California, demanded that the district and the California Department of Education (CDE) comply with federal laws ensuring a “free appropriate public education” to all children with disabilities.
  • Hartmann v. Loudoun County Board of Education

    The court held: "(1) Mainstreaming is not required when a student with a disability will not receive an educational benefit from it. (2) Any marginal benefit from mainstreaming would be outweighed by benefits that could only be obtained in a separate educational setting; (3) A...student [disrupting a mainstream classroom] is a legitimate issue...(4) ...the receipt of social benefits is a subordinate goal to receiving educational benefits." [source: www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e629.html]
  • Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garrett F

    Schools "that receive federal funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act have to pay for one-on-one nursing assistance for certain of their students with disabilities...."
    [source: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1998/96-1793]
  • Reauthorization of IDEA

    Requires special education teachers to be "highly qualified."
    "...increased focus on accountability and improved outcomes. Emphasis on reading, early interventions, and research based instruction." [source: video The History of Special Education Law in America by Tom Sauve]
  • Emma C. v. Delaine Eastin, et al. 2017 Update

    "Two-decade old legal battle over special education oversight nears resolution, brings major changes. 'The California Department of Education must now comply with the corrective action plan and reform its dysfunctional state-level monitoring system,' said William Koski, an attorney from Stanford Law School’s Youth & Education Law Project." [source: https://edsource.org/?p=576675]