A brief history: In 1982, the U. S. Supreme Court issued the first decision in a special education case in Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176. In Rowley, the Court held that school districts did not have to provide the “best” education for disabled students but merely had to provide services so the child received “some educational benefit.” Rowley established a low standard for a “free appropriate public education”.
In 2004, Congress issued their findings, citing “Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.”
Purpose of IDEA:
to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living;
to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected;
to assist states, localities, educational service agencies, and federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities;
to assist states in the implementation of a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, inter-agency system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families;
to ensure that educators and parents have the necessary tools to improve educational results for children with disabilities by supporting system improvement activities; coordinated research and personnel preparation; coordinated technical assistance, dissemination, and support; and technology development and media services;
to assess, and ensure the effectiveness of, efforts to educate children with disabilities.
There are four main parts of IDEA.
Part A: Provision of IDEA. This section discusses general provisions, including the purpose of IDEA and the definitions used throughout the statute.
Part B: Includes provisions related to formula grants that assist states in providing a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for children with disabilities ages three through 21.
Part C: Includes provisions related to formula grants that assist states in providing early intervention services for infants and toddlers birth through age two and their families.
Part D: Includes provisions related to discretionary grants to support state personnel development, technical assistance and dissemination, technology, and parent-training and information centers.