Module 1: History of Special Education

  • Relief of Sick/Disabled Seamen

    Relief of Sick/Disabled Seamen
    July 16, 1798, John Adams signed the Act to authorize the deduction of twenty cents per month from the wages of seamen, in order to fund medical care and the building of hospitals for sick and disabled seamen.
  • American Asylum for Education/Instruction

    American Asylum for Education/Instruction
    The American Asylum for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb was the first special education school in the United States. It was established in Harford, Connecticut, opened with seven pupils. It was later renamed The American School for the Deaf.
  • Compulsory Education Law

    Compulsory Education Law
    Rhode Island was the first state to pass a law mandating compulsory education for children. By 1918 every state in the Union would have a similar law. Statues for compulsory attendance at school did not apply to students with disabilities and African Americans.
  • Separate Car Act

    Separate Car Act
    Louisiana State legislature voted for a Separate Car Act, which required equal but separate train-car accommodations for black and white passengers.
  • Watson v. City of Cambridge

    Watson v. City of Cambridge
    Massachusetts Supreme Court upheld the decision made by the City of Cambridge to have a disabled student who was “weak of mind” and could not benefit from instruction, was troublesome to other children, made “unusual noises,” and was unable to take; “ordinary, decent, physical care of himself” could be expelled from public school.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson

    Plessy v. Ferguson
    Considered a landmark 1896 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the constitutionality of the separate but equal doctrine, indirectly denying students with disabilities access to education for decades.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson- Video

  • First Public Special Education Class

    First Public Special Education Class
    The first public special education class in the United States was opened to educate people with disabilities. This leads to the creation of institutions to work with disabled people.
  • Beattie v. Board of Education

    Beattie v. Board of Education
    The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled to uphold the decision to remove from school a student with a disability that caused him to drool, make facial contortions, and speech problems all because the school saw those behaviors as nauseating to teachers and students. The court sided with school officials that felt the student required too much time and attention, causing disruptions to the learning environment.
  • Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed.

    Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed.
    Attorney Thurgood Marshall challenged the prior ruling on the Separate Car Act (1890) that prevented the third-grader, Linda Brown, from attending a neighborhood school because she was African American. The court unanimously decided that every child should have the right to an education.
  • Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

    Elementary & Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
    Enacted by Congress the ESEA addressed the inequality of educational opportunity for underprivileged children. This landmark legislation provided resources to help ensure that disadvantaged students had access to quality education.
  • Special Olympics

    Special Olympics
    Founded in the early 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started the first summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities, which evolved into the Special Olympics Games, which started in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968.
  • Special Olympics- Website

  • PARC v. Pennsylvania

    PARC v. Pennsylvania
    A lawsuit was filed when a boy entering 3rd grade in Pennsylvania was denied a public education due to a law allowing public schools to deny education to children with disabilities. The Pennsylvania Assoc. for Retarded Children (PARC) was formed and sued, claiming that the state had prevented due process and denied the rights of mentally disabled children through their education laws. The state was ordered to provide free public education to all children despite their disabilities.
  • PARC v. Pennsylvania-Video

  • Mills v. Board of Education

    Mills v. Board of Education
    The lawsuit was filed against the District of Columbia Board of Education on behalf of 7 students who were denied the right to an education due to mental and behavioral disabilities. The school district stated that it did not have the monetary funds and/or resources to meet the needs of these particular students. The Supreme Court found that denying these students a right to education was equivalent to discriminating against students due to their race.
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
    Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law states that school districts may not exclude students from a free and appropriate education based on disability. Impairments included under Section 504 may be any disability, long-term illness, or various disorders that “substantially” reduces or lessens a student’s disability to access learning in the educational setting.
  • Education Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA)

    Education Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA)
    Signed by President Gerald Ford, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, also known as Public Law 94-142, required all states that accepted money from the federal government were required to provide equal access to education for children with disabilities. This guaranteed a free appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.
  • Handicapped Children's Protection Act

    Handicapped Children's Protection Act
    President Regan signed the Handicapped Children's Protection Act, a law that gave parents of children with disabilities more say in the development of their child's Individual Education Plan, or IEP.
  • Public Law 101-476

    Public Law 101-476
    Public Law 101-476 called for changes to EAHCA by adding traumatic brain injury and autism as new disability categories. Additionally, mandates placed individual transition plans (ITP) as part of a student's IEP to help students transition to post-secondary life.
  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. It guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
    The EAHCA becomes the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), emphasizing that all children should have access to the same curriculum. President Clinton reauthorized IDEA with several key amendments, including that states had the authority to expand the developmental delay definition from birth through five years of age to include students between the ages of six and nice.
  • No Child Left Behind Act

    No Child Left Behind Act
    Legislation ensured that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach a minimum proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. Special education teachers who taught core academic subjects had to meet highly qualified teacher requirements, demonstrating competence in their subjects.
  • IDEA 2004

    IDEA 2004
    Congress has amended and renamed the special education law several times since 1975. On December 3, 2004, Congress reauthorized what became known as IDEA 2004, and they emphasized the need to align the IDEA with other school improvement efforts. Congress increased accountability and improved outcomes by emphasizing reading, early intervention, and research-based instruction by requiring that special education teachers be highly qualified.
  • Every Student Succeeds Act

    Every Student Succeeds Act
    In response to complaints from state and school districts, Congress removed portions of the IDEA law about accountability, including requirements for a highly qualified teacher. It reduced standardized tests and eliminated one-size-fits-all mandates. Additionally, it ensured schools would prepare all students to graduate from high school ready for college and careers and access state pre-school programs.