Special Education Law Review

Posted: October 24th, 2013









Special Education Law Review















Special Education Law Review


            The Special Education Act, formed in 1975, has played a major role in the enrollment of disabled students into public schools (Rothstein & Scott, 2009). This Act was, however, abused by some disabled students who also had discipline issues. The Act was later changed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The first principle of IDEA was that all children who met the required age were to access special education and other related services (Rothstein & Scott, 2009). This principle supports the idea that everyone has the ability to perform when given the opportunity. The age required for these services were 6 to 17 years. The second principle is inclusion, initially known as “mainstreaming mandate”. This means that these children were to receive services without feeling discriminated. For instance, the disabled children were to go to the same schools with the able ones. This was difficult because some disabled students have severe conditions. The third principle is that the children’s education was to be customized to meet their needs. This means that because these children had unique needs these needs had to be met (Rothstein & Scott, 2009). The next principle is that of Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This principle was to enable the disabled children get free and appropriate public education. This principle would help the IDEA team to follow up the children’s performances in school. The next principle in the IDEA is that of the participation of the children’s parents. This means that the parents of these children with disabilities were to be actively involved in decision-making. Finally, the sixth is a principle that requires the legal safeguarding of these children and their parents. This was crucial to enable parents to access information on the progress of their children and seek justice when aggrieved (Rothstein & Scott, 2009).


The NCLB Act, which stands for No Child Left behind Act, became a law in 2002. This Act was meant to ensure that students in America in both elementary and secondary schools received quality education and in a conducive environment (Freedman, 2012). The first principle of NCLB is accountability. This principle states that children should acquire quality education from their schools. The second principle in this Act states that the teachers in these schools should be highly qualified. This means they were to meet certain standards before certification. There is also the principle of scientifically based interventions. This means that this Act was to be evidence based. The teachers had to do a lot of research before they relayed any information to the students. In this Act, there is also the principle of local flexibility. This principle entrusted institutions with the mandate of educating these children by accessing these funds in order to achieve the NCLB goals (Freedman, 2012). The other principle in this Act is the principle of safe schools, which was to ensure that the schools these children attended were safe. Finally, there is the principle of parent participation and choice. This principle ensured that parents were able to make their contributions in issues that affected their children. The principle of parent participation and choice also allowed parents to transfer their children from schools they felt did not meet their expectations. Therefore, The NCLB Act was keen on the accountability of the schools children attended. This means the Act ensured that the children attended the right schools.

ADA And section 504

            ADA, American Disabilities Act, was formed to protect the disabled children from discrimination. The first element under this Act is the continuous use of practices that are developmental in nature. The second element is the formation of a helping attitude toward these children. Creating time in ones daily program to spend some time with these children is the next element in this law. The next element is the elimination of programs that may be challenging to these children with disabilities. This means programs should be manageable by all. The other element is ensuring to get information from parents on any special treatments for the child. Barriers are also supposed to be eliminated in order to allow these children to participate equally in activities. Finally, there is the funding for accommodation and assistance required by these children (Bettencourt, 2002).

The Rehabilitation Act, enacted in 1973, provided protection for the disabled persons against discrimination. This Act ensures that the needs of the disabled children are met. Section 504 has several elements. One of them is that it should describe the complexity of the problem. Secondly, this section describes the ways by which a child is categorized as disabled. This section also describes the effects of the disability and recommends services that maybe of assistance to this child. Finally, the section should also review its activities (Bettencourt, 2002).

Difference between Section 504 and IDEA

            There are several differences between Section 504 and IDEA. For instance, while Section 504 works on leveling the playing field for the disabled children, IDEA works on providing additional services to the disabled. Secondly, while IDEA works on creating more facilities for the disabled and giving them some funding; Section 504 works on simply eliminating discrimination for these children in schools. Another difference is that in IDEA encourages the accessibility of funds by educational institutions while Section 504 only selects a few programs to fund. The other difference is on the protection provided by each law. This is because Section 504’s definition of disability is different from that of Section 504 (Bettencourt, 2002).

Significance of the Special Education laws to educators

            It is important for the educators of these children with disabilities to know the laws to avoid legal action. This is because the parents of these children, who know their rights, may take legal action against an educator who does not obey the laws. Secondly, the knowledge of these laws will help the educator know how to handle these children and even where to seek help when needed (Bettencourt, 2002). It is also crucial to know these laws since the educator can know the steps to follow to create a healthy environment and protect this child from discrimination. The knowledge of these laws will also help the educator know when a specific child’s case is extreme and requires certain special care. These laws are vital to an educator because they can be able to monitor the performance of these children and know their differences. These laws are necessary to educators because they act as a guide. The educator provides quality education because it is required by law.













Bettencourt, L. (2002). Understanding the differences between IDEA and SECTION 504. Volume 34

Freedman, M. K. (2012). Special Education: It’s Ethical dilemmas, entitlement status, and suggested systematic reforms.

Rothstein, L., & Scott, F. J. (2009). Special Education Law. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

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