Many people think that the fight for the inclusion and rights of people with disabilities began with the PARC Consent Decree and the passing of P.L. 94-142, The Education for Handicapped Children Act, in the early 1970s. While serving as a judge in the 1954 case of Brown v. The Board of Topeka, Kansas, before the United States Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall deserves praise for his contribution to the movement for the rights of disabled children and the development of laws for special education.
Disability rights advocates relied on this principle to argue that disabled children were excluded from the education system or served under substandard conditions. It was estimated that more than 7 million students who were disabled were not able to access public education.
Another effect of the Brown v. Board of Topeka ruling was that social movements started looking to the courts for redress, which went beyond refuting the idea of “separate but equal.” The Brown case was a decision on behalf of an entire “class” composed of people and had a major impact on students who were discriminated against based on race. In the early 70s, there were two landmark class action court trials in which states were challenged on the grounds of not offering education for students with disabilities and argued that students with disabilities were entitled to similar rights to those not disabled. As a result of the Brown ruling, education was available to all non-disabled students. The case is a PARC (Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens) case. In 1972, a settlement was reached regarding the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The PARC Consent Decree stipulated procedural safeguards and required Pennsylvania to provide free public education to all students with intellectual disabilities.
In the same way, Mills’ case. In 1972, the District of Columbia faced opposition from the Board of Education. The Mills case in the District of Columbia increased the rights of all students with disabilities to educational opportunities, including those who were denied the opportunity to learn because they had been suspended or expelled as disciplinary measures (Yell and others, 2011).
In the United States, other class action suits are pending in response to the need to reform the education system. In the midst of this, in 1973, the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and, more specifically, Section 504 of the ADA, was an initial piece of federal law that made it illegal for public institutions that received federal funding to discriminate against students due to disabilities. In the beginning, the law was used to facilitate building access for people with mobility problems. The fight to secure these rights is beautifully documented in the recently nominated documentary film, Crip Camp. The same advocates also pushed to see the rights of those who suffer from disabilities extended to private companies through the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Although it was initially intended to protect the rights of people with disabilities, physical and physical access, the benefits were expanded to include access to physical and physical disabilities.
After the Vocational Rehabilitation Act was passed in the United States, federal law mandated and secured the rights of every child with disabilities to receive free education for all children. The E.H.A. is often referred to as the six fundamental aspects of the E.H.A. (now named IDEA).
However, the contents of the list are different, and we’re presenting seven main principles that are an integral part of the current law:
– Every student has the right to a free, accessible education, referred to as F.A.P.E.
– Every student has the right to an education in the Least Restrictive – Environment, L.R.E.
– All students are entitled to the Individual Education Program.
– Non-discriminatory assessment and assessment
– Parent involvement
– Security procedures for due process
After the legislation has been approved, the implementation process results in defining the meaning and guidelines of the law. As new laws are enacted and the courts, via litigation, are utilised to guide the implementation of the laws. Some court decisions are of limited scope, while others span geographical areas, all based on how high up in the court system the case is being heard. The federal laws are then “reauthorized” by making changes based partly on the judges’ conclusions. Naturally, following the E.H.A. was approved, there were several important court cases which further clarified the obligations. In 1982 the Hendrick Hudson Dist. Bd. Of Ed. V. Rowley was the first E.H.A. case in the Supreme Court. Amy Rowley is deaf, and her parents sought an interpreter who spoke sign language in the name of Amy but was refused. However, the Supreme Court overruled, stating that an appropriate education was given when it was determined that the I.E.P. was “reasonably designed to provide educational benefits” (Yell and others. 2011). Although she was doing very well in school, she was not granted an interpreter. Since “educationally benefit” didn’t define the criteria for ensuring adequate educational benefit, subsequent cases used different standards to determine whether the F.A.P.E. provision was because of its educational value (Yell and Bateman, 2021).
In 1984, another important court case that dealt with related services that are relevant to the delivery of F.A.P.E. Irving Independent School District v. Tatro stated that health healthcare services offered by a nurse or any other qualified professional should be made available to students as a related service when they are required to allow students to obtain F.A.P.E. Medical services that had to be provided by a doctor were not considered to be related services. Amber Tatro was an eight-year-old with spina bifida who needed continuous catheterization (C.I.C.) throughout her school hours. The school district considered it a medical procedure, and they weren’t required to include C.I.C. in the C.I.C. on her I.E.P. One of the most convincing arguments for this to be an associated service and not a medical procedure was that Amber’s family members had been, after a short course, able to carry out the procedure. It was believed that Amber herself was soon able to complete the procedure.
In the year 1986, there was a revision of the E.H.A. The significance of this change is that it broadened the scope of who is included in the program to include services for early intervention starting at birth and continuing until the age of two. The E.H.A. was only available to children who were at age three. Furthermore, it was decided that those who received these services must have the Individualised Family Service Plan, which extended the requirements of I.E.P.s. I.E.P. to include family-related services. The entire family. In the same year, Congress approved The Handicapped Children’s Protection Act that allowed courts to award attorney’s fees and other costs that parents or guardians have incurred as a result of taking civil or administrative action by the E.H.A. legislation of 1975, which strengthened the obligation of due process protections (Florian West and Floridian 1989).
Several notable court cases took place before the next reauthorization, which was scheduled for 1990. In 1988, the Honig the Honig. Doe’s case addressed the removal of students with difficulties with their behaviour. The result was that schools couldn’t expel a student due to an act that was due to their disability. The court also ruled that suspensions of more than 10 consecutive days were deemed a location modification and required an I.E.P. team to meet again. Any suspension or expulsion that lasted more than 10 days with no change in placement could be considered a denial of F.A.P.E. The case also established that the student must remain in the same place (stay-put provision) for any hearings in judicial or administrative proceedings and procedures (Yell and others. 2011).
In 1989 in Timothy W. v. Rochester, the court ruled that a child was unfairly denied F.A.P.E. as the school district believed he was insufficiently disabled to benefit from education. The court’s decision confirmed that all students have a right to receive F.A.P.E. regardless of their disabilities, which supported the zero rejection requirement of E.H.A. (Baumgart Giangreco and Baumgart 1996). A different case that was significant gave clear guidance on the L.R.E. directive with the introduction of a two-pronged assessment to determine if a child might be placed in an environment with more restrictions. In Daniel RR v. State Board of Education (1989), the court used a two-pronged examination, acknowledging the difficulties in determining the most restrictive environment to ensure that the student receives a quality educational program (F.A.P.E.). The fundamental issue was whether taking a student from an inclusive class to a private classroom was appropriate. The court ruled that an I.E.P. the team first needs to determine whether, through the use of aids and services that are supplementary in the classroom, the child will be able to receive a suitable educational experience in the primary education class (Marx and co. 2014; Yell and Drasgow 1999). The most important aspect of this assessment is the examination of benefits that are not academic. Before this test, the case of Rowley, it was determined that educational benefits were an indicator of the effectiveness of an I.E.P. This case also highlighted the nonacademic advantages, like social benefits. Another factor to consider was the effect on the educational needs of disabled students in the classroom. It also gave the school district the right to dismiss a student when they’re considered disruptive to the other student’s education. The second part of the test focused on other ways to interact with students who aren’t disabled. If the student cannot attain a good education in the classroom with those who are not disabled, however, the school should be able to consider including the student to the greatest extent. This case clarified that the E.H.A. intended to ensure that students who have disabilities were educated in the most effective way possible alongside the non-disabled students and that the education offered included other classroom activities, such as recess and lunch (Martin and co. 1996; Marx et al. 2014; Yell and Drasgow 1999).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
There were many significant changes made to the E.H.A. with the reauthorization that took place in 1990. One of them was the title of the law. In 1990 it was announced that the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was changed to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which emphasised the shift to a “people-first” language, in addition to using the word disabilities instead of handicapped. It was also significant that the law mandated a transition plan to be made available to every student with an I.E.P. starting at age 16. In addition, this reauthorization included two different disabilities covered by this law: Traumatic Brain Injury (T.B.I.) and autism. For the first time, assistive technology was included as an element of the law, including assistive technology devices and related services (Yell and co. (2011)).
Following the 1990 reauthorization, the court heard two more courts that utilised “tests”, which was a method to determine if a student is placed in the most restrictive setting. It was a time of excitement for advocates for inclusive education as these cases were taking place simultaneously in circuit courts located on the East and West coasts. In the case of Daniel RR, a “test” was set up; it was not required to be used in all courts, which is why it is crucial to know the impact of courts on the law. If multiple cases from different regions of the country share similar findings, it is not unheard of to find the implications of those findings in laws. The courts have not been uniform in their decisions regarding inclusive education. Hence the necessity of these tests is not as clear. The Oberti Supreme Court in Oberti. Board of Education of the Borough of Clementon School District (1993) established the three-prong test for L.R.E. The court ruled that these elements were relevant to determining the most restrictive setting for an adequate education:
- Whether the school has made a “reasonable effort” to include students in general education classes;
- Comparing the educational benefits of being part of classes in general education, with the addition of additional aids and services in contrast to the advantages of learning in the special education classroom,
- The effect of students’ inclusion on their peers who are not disabled (Bradley & Wintermann, 2014; Martin et al., 1996, Marx and colleagues. 2014).
The court’s findings were that the district hadn’t taken reasonable steps to include Rafael. He was a kindergartener, partly because they were not using the same methods and strategies when he was in the regular education class, which were considered effective within the classroom for special educators. This also substantiated the conclusions from the Daniel RR case, where it is first necessary to determine that if a student is using supplements to aid and services, the student is not receiving educational benefits before removing this student from the class.
The Oberti incident was unfolding, and the
The Sacramento City School District v. Rachel H. case occurred on the West coast. In the year, Rachel Holland began kindergarten, and her parents asked to have her put in the general education class full-time. The district argued that Rachel would do best in a special class for academic subjects. She could also be placed in the general education classroom during nonacademic hours and require Rachel to be able to travel between classrooms. Similar to the Oberti and the Daniel RR cases, there was a multi-faceted test. The court considered four aspects. The courts looked at academic and nonacademic advantages, the effect of the inclusion of students with disabilities and the teacher, and the price of allowing Rachel (Bradley and Wintermann 2014; Martin et al. 1996; Marx et al. 2014). The court concluded that Rachel could gain more academically and non-academically from the general education classroom without disorienting other students by using the help of a part-time aide. In addition, the court concluded that the district did not properly estimate the cost of incorporating Rachel. Although it might be considered, the cost was not the only factor that could hinder Rachel from being considered. In both Oberti and the Holland cases, the court placed the responsibility of proof on the school districts, which was viewed as a major victory for educational advocates. The results from these trials were lauded by those who advocated for inclusion throughout the country.