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Caring for Our People with Disabilities & Chronic Illness

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IDEA - What Legal Rights It Created

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Four Purposes of PL 94-142

  • "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"

Source: Education for All Handicapped Children’s Act of 1975

The 1975 law guaranteed that EVERY child was entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE). It did not matter how severe his or her disability.

IDEA also mandated that all students had to have a written Individual Education Plan describing assessment results, goals, educational services and the amount of time a student would spend in the regular classroom. (IEPs are discussed in detail in the special education workshop.)

Parents' rights under IDEA include the right to be informed before any evaluation of their child for special education, to obtain an independent evaluation, to see all of their child's records, participate in the development of the IEP and request a due process hearing if differences with the school cannot be resolved.

Children have the right to be tested in the language they know best. The law also stated that children should be educated in the "least restrictive environment" (LRE). The least restrictive environment possible would be to live at home and attend regular classes with students who do not have disabilities. People with disabilities can only be removed from the regular classroom when their disability is so severe that, even with assistance, they cannot achieve their educational goals in the regular classroom. Under the original law it was required for students to be evaluated every three years, the most current law allows for this to be waived in some cases.

blue next arrowNext page, another example of why PL 94-142 was necessary.

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