Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Background of the Law

In 1972, Congress commenced an investigation to determine the status of children with disabilities in the country. According to statistics from the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped that more than 8 million children were in need of special education and other related services. From that number, only 3.9 million were receiving appropriate education. 1.75 million of the handicapped children were not receiving any educational services at all. On the hand, 2.5 million were receiving inappropriate education. These statistics resulted to introduction of legislation to the congress following several landmark court cases that established the right for education to all children with disability. Among the cases there was Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia and Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC).These cases involved two important federal court rulings that aided in laying the foundation that led to passage of Section 504 in 1973 of the Rehabilitation Act and the EAHCA; which is now regarded as IDEA.

IDEA was initially enacted in 1975 by Congress to help children with disability attain opportunities for appropriate public education as other children without disability. During this period, it was regarded as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142). Before the passage of the Act, public schools did not have outright obligations concerning children with disability. There was a lot of segregation taking place even for those that got the opportunity of joining public schools. The Act had come along as a result of a wave of activism during the 1960s and 70s (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). The law has been amended severally over the years. The recent amendment was passed in 2004 by Congress. It aims at solving the educational inequalities experienced by children with disabilities.


The Main Purpose of the Law

The major purposes of IDEA include ensuring the rights pertaining to children with disability, and their parents are protected.  It also ensures that they have access to “free appropriate public education” that focuses on special education a

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