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ED-331 : Critical Issues in Special Education

Books, Databases, Court cases, websites that deal with Special Education issues.


IEP: Individual Education Program

FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education

IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA Section 651(e)).  This used to be called the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975. Public Law 94-142.)

U.S. Laws for Special Education

Laws that Affect Special Education


1. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  Public Law No. 89-10, 79 Stat. 27.

Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 which was one of President Johnson's signature issues. Its main feature, Title I, sent federal dollars to school districts across the nation to raise the achievement of disadvantaged children. 

Here is a link to an article written by the Harvard Graduate School of Education


2. Education for All Handicapped Children ( EAHCA or EHA, or Public Law 94-142).  This law was signed by President Gerald Ford.  It was codified at 20 U.S.C. Section 1400-1482 (2004) and is the predecessor of IDEA.

This act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education for children with physical and mental disabilities.

It was modified in 1983 by Public Law 98-199.

In 1986 Congress modified it again and highlighted the importance of the preschool years by lowering to age three the age at which children were eligible for special education and related services (Public Law 99-457).  The amendments also established the Handicapped Infants and Toddler Program to assist children and their families from birth to age three. 


3. In 1992 Education for All Handicapped Children was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  Public Law 101-476.


4.  Goals 2000: Educate America Act, Public Law 103-227.  This law was signed into law on March 31, 1994 by President Bill Clinton.

 This act is to improve learning and teaching by providing a national framework for education reform; to promote the research, consensus building, and systemic changes needed to ensure equitable educational opportunities and high levels of educational achievement for all students; to provide a framework for reauthorization of all Federal education programs; to promote the development and adoption of a voluntary national system of skill standards and certifications; and for other purposes.


5. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, Public Law 105-17, Section 601(c)(5)(A).  were signed by the President Clinton on June 4, 1997. The Final IDEA '97 Regulations were released on Friday, March 12, 1999.  These amendments to the Act focused on improving the education of children with disabilities by:

  • Identifying children with special needs before they enter school and providing services to help them,

  • Developing individualized education programs (IEPs) that focus on improving educational results through the general curriculum,

  • Educating children with disabilities with their nondisabled peers,

  • Setting higher expectations for students who are disabled and ensuring schools are held accountable,

  • Strengthening the role of parents and fostering partnerships between parents and schools,

  • Reducing unnecessary paperwork and other burdens.

IDEA - Federal Assistance to States for the Education of Children With Disabilities and Preschool Grants for Children With Disabilities; Final Rule (December 1, 2008)


6. No Child Left Behind Act of 2001signed into law by President Bush on Jan. 8, 2002, was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. This act encompasses Title I, the federal government's flagship aid program for disadvantaged students.


7. The IDEA Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)  was reauthorized and amended in 2004 by the IDEA of 2004, Public Law No. 108-446, 118 Stat. 2647. It is usually referred to as IDEA '04.  It was implemented July 1, 2005. 


Decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court

The following cases are linked to the Library of Congress record.  Another site to use is the Wrightslaw Special Education site which allows you to easily search for these cases.  Google Scholar also has a feature that allows you to search for legal options and journals..  

Searching for Legal opinions and journals

Under the Google Scholar's Advance Search you can search for Legal Opinions and Journals.