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Civil Rights Legislation

Special Ed Legislation

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Special Education Laws

The following Special Education laws will be addressed in this section:

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 1975

»1986 Amendments: Preschool and Infant/Toddler Programs

»1990 Amendments: IDEA

»1997 Amendments

In addition to assurances of civil rights of students with disabilities, other legislation exists that addresses their educational rights. The first major law that guaranteed the right to a public education for all children, ages 5 to 21, was the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.


The Education for the Handicapped Act (EHA) (P.L. 94-142)

The Education for all Handicapped Children Acts is more commonly known as the EHA; it had as its purpose:

  • To guarantee a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all children with disabilities, ages 5-21
  • Special Education and related services must be free, provided by the public agency at no cost to the parents
  • Appropriate education is the provision of regular and special education and related services designed to meet students' individual educational needs.
  • To develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each child eligible for special education and related services; plan is based on multi-disciplinary assessment and includes a statement of specific special education and related services to be provided to the child
  • To the maximum extent appropriate, all children and youth with disabilities will be educated in the least restrictive education (LRE) environment
  • Parents have the right to participate in every decision related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child. Parents must give consent for any initial evaluation, assessment or placement decision. Due process procedures assure parents rights to appeal.

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EHA Amendments

1986 Amendments (P.L. 99-457)
Preschool and Infant/Toddler Programs

In 1986, an amendment to the EHA, extended the purpose of EHA to include children ages 0-5 and included:

  • To extend the guarantee to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to children with disabilities, ages 3-5.
  • To establish Early Intervention Programs (EIP) for infants and toddlers with disabilities, ages 0-2
  • To develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for each family with an infant/toddler with disabilities


1997 Amendments
AT Definitions

1990 Amendments (P.L. 101-476)

In 1990, amendments were again added to EHA, considerably adding components to the law:

  • To rename the EHA as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The amendment also replaced the phrase "handicapped child" with "child with a disability".
  • To provide Transition Services for students by age 16
  • To extend eligibility to children with autism and traumatic brain injury
  • To define Assistive Technology Devices and Services for children with disabilities for inclusion in the IEP
  • To extend the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to require the child, to the maximum extent appropriate, be educated with children without disabilities -- in the same class s/he would have been but for the disability


1997 Amendments
1997 Amendment

1997 Amendments (P.L. 105-17)

1997 amendments further strengthened the rights of students with disabilities.

  • To extend LRE as an assurance that all students would have "access to the general curriculum"
  • To "consider" Assistive Technology Devices and Services on the IEP's of all students. Use of school-purchased AT in a child's home or other settings is required if the child needs access to those devices to receive FAPE.
  • To include orientation and mobility services to the list of related services for children who are blind or have visual impairments, as well as for other children who may also need instruction in traveling around their school, or to and from school.

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Civil Rights Special Ed AT Laws




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