Individuals with Disability Education Act

Individuals with Disability Education Act

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The reforms in the education system have come from far. Prior to the 1960’s there were no special education programs for children with disability and most of them were separated from the ‘normal’ children, outside the schools. It is simpler to call it segregation or discrimination based on disability (Anthony, 2011). If not sent to an institution, meant to only confine them together, they were to stay at home, sometimes locked in the house to avoid ‘embarrassing’ their respective families. However, comparing the present day reforms and progress to the education systems, we can say that their rights were simply ignored; the government and the society condoned this segregation (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007).

Children who were deaf, mentally retarded, blind or even with emotional instability were seen as different and secluded in the government education programs. Every child deserves a right to education, and the American constitution mandates this without any discrimination. However, this was after a long battle with legal rights for Individuals with disabilities that compelled the American constitution to embrace such policies (Landrum, Cook & Tankersley, 2014). The most basic thing that a parent or the government can give a child is the right and opportunity to education so as to build an intelligent and self-reliant nation. Children with disability have come a long way from a dim past to a bright future today (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010).

It was not until the 1960’s that people started questioning the civil and educational rights of the disabled, apparently, this was after the Civil Rights Act was passed. Parents wanted a holistic and fair treatment of all children irrespective of their disabilities. As a result, this caught the attention of the congress and the Individuals with disability Act was passed. The act was later changed to Individuals with Disability Act (IDEA) (Anthony, 2011). One of the major targets of IDEA since its conception and actualization is to ensure that children with disabilities get equal opportunities in school as the rest of the ‘normal’ children. To the present day, this program has assisted many children and individuals with disabilities not only a fair opportunity in the education sector, but also in the job market (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007).

Legal History and Overview to the Present

The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) came to light in 2004, however, the idea started way back in the 1960’s. IDEA was formed with the purpose of providing education opportunities in an equal measure to all children with disability so as to meet their unique needs in different ways (Landrum, Cook & Tankersley, 2014). Secondly, it was meant to prepare such children with employment and ensure that they are able to live independently when they are through with their education. Thirdly, children with disability and their parents had been treated unfairly by the government and the society before; therefore, the Act was passed to ensure fair treatment and protection of the rights of children with disability (Jesteadt, 2012).

However, the legal process in the formation of IDEA started many years ago, about 57 years ago but actually took place in 1975 only for it to be revised in 2004. The history of the Special Education Law started in 1954 with a case of Brown v. Board of Education. Brown argued that it was unfortunate that there was no way a child could succeed in life if he or she was denied an opportunity to go to school (Anthony, 2011). This is where the evolution of special education started and many discrimination law suits were filed against the American government. However, it was not until 1975 that the congress enacted the Public Law 94-142 that set educational rights for the disabled. Segregation in public schools was at first mainly focused through racial basis, whereby African Americans were denied equal education opportunities (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010).

According to Brown’s argument, discrimination of children in public schools based o race or any other grounds was unconstitutional and it deprived them of their fundamental rights outlined in the constitution. It was here that the emotional impact that segregation brought on children was outlined thus leading to the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Brown, allowing children of any race to mix freely in public schools (Landrum, Cook & Tankersley, 2014). After this triumphant success, the parent to disabled children started filing lawsuits against their district schools because of the segregation that their children faced, they could not be enrolled in public schools. As a result, in 1965 the congress enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) addressing the inequality and education opportunity for the children with Disability and underprivileged children (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007).

In 1966, through a congress ESEA amendment, a grant program was introduced to commence an education program for the handicapped children in the United States. It was not until 1970 that the Handicapped Act (P.L 91-230) was enacted so as to see to it that the education programs for the disabled individuals actually started under the law. Many cases advocating for change in the education sector roamed the courts in the 1970’s (Anthony, 2011). Such cases as: Mills v. The Board of Education of Columbia District and the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC) are some of the notable cased that contributed to legal reforms in the education sector for people with disability (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007). It was found that the Columbia District failed to avail the support needed for the disabled children. Discrimination was also noted against the disabled children as they could be expelled or even transferred to other schools without due law process required.

After two years, after a Congressional Investigation of 1972, it was determined that millions of disabled children did not receive quality education as intended by the Handicapped Act of 1970. As a result, the congress passed the law and constitutional right to quality education for all individuals who are disabled, meaning the handicapped children (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010). The year 1975 was met with jubilation by the Individuals with disability after the congress saw the Public Law (94-142) enacted and demanding that all children with disability had the right to education and the education agencies were accountable for provision of these services. Legal checks and balances were also set so as to see to it that procedural safeguards to the rights of children with disability were protected (Jesteadt, 2012).

It was not until December 2004 that the amendment to the Handicapped Act which conceptualized to the present day IDEA. It was revisited and enacted to put more emphasis on accountability and qualification criteria for the special education teachers. The “No Child Left Behind Act” of 2001 is one motivational commitment by the American government to see to it that all children got equal opportunities in the education sector irrespective of their race, gender, physical ability or even religious background. IDEA program is thus presently enforced under the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ in fostering for the educational rights of children with disability (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010). It is also a platform that has seen to it that the education is availed at minimum costs, high proficiency and optimum quality by training and retraining the special education teachers. Today both the disabled children and the ‘normal’ children can learn in the same school unless a special need requires them to be in a specialized institution thus bridging the barrier that was once set by the old education system (Anthony, 2011).

Application to the School

The application of IDEA in public and private schools has been challenging as well as successful in most cases today. According to the law, if a parent thinks that their child is disabled and qualifies for special education, a legal process has to be followed (Landrum, Cook & Tankersley, 2014). IDEA is meant to protect the rights of disabled children and their parents on legal grounds. As a result, both parents and the children are required to know their rights under IDEA so as to get the required assistance offered by the government in the education sector. Not only does IDEA protect the rights of disabled children but it is also meant to give a voice to the parents of those children, and those are the two major core purposes of the program (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010).

First of all, it is good to look at who is legible under IDEA. Apparently, the application of IDEA in the education sector does not house all the children with attention and learning issues as qualified for special education. In order for a child to qualify, he or she must have one of the following disabilities or a number of them (Jesteadt, 2012). First of all they may have Autism, deafness, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, blindness, orthopaedic impairment, specific learning disability, traumatic brain injury, language and speech impairment and visual impairment. When a child has either of these disabilities, they are qualified under the law to receive special education (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007).

IDEA management has been very successful in California districts via the use of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) by allocating the relevant schools with disadvantaged students. As the Education superintendent in California, I would ensure that the target groups get the required assistance by employing both LCFF and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010). These are two strategies that have proven very effective in ensuring that parents to the disadvantaged students and the society in general are involved in formulation of various strategies that may be used to help the Disabled students. LCAP would involve identifying the goals of the schools in the district in relation to the disabled; ensure that action plans are collectively devised by the teachers, parents and the public. Thirdly, I would enhance collaboration between the County Education Office of California to the management of various schools by ensuring that each school is allocated some funding to assist the disabled students (Jesteadt, 2012).

Since many parents to the disabled do not know their constitutional rights in terms of the assistance and preference that their children should be accosted in schools, I would create a website that would assist in creating online awareness while at the same time forming various community groups that would hold public rallies meant to create awareness to the public (Apling, Jones & Library of Congress, 2007). When it comes to storage of relevant national data points, the District IDEA office would be responsible for collecting data from the public and various schools on the number of disability cases that have enrolled in the community schools so as to store them electronically in the government records for easy allocation of funding and close follow up on the quality of assistance being accorded them (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010).


Awareness Workshop on Disabled Rights and Funding via IDEA

The Target Group of this Awareness workshop will be Parents, teachers and Administrators in various California District schools. It has been noted that most of the disability cases in schools are neglected since parents do not know what to do nor do they understand the rights they have under IDEA. On the other hand, teachers need to understand how to treat children with disability in schools as well as having a special way o handle their curriculum (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010). The workshop will also discuss the government’s plans in collaboration with IDEA on training and retraining teachers so that they are able to handle special cases and curriculums in public and special schools. When it comes to the administrators of various schools, they will be trained on how to identify children with disability and the funds allocated to assist each child by the education ministry (Jesteadt, 2012).

Target group Goals Duration Activities Strategies to evaluate the success of the workshop
Parents to children with disability, teachers, District school administrators Introduce IDEA and its purpose in Children with disability issues pertaining to their educationHow to identify children with disabilityDifferent special programs set for the disabledMoney allocated per school and per student with disability in California district schoolsWho to report to in case of child abuseContributions of parents and teachers in the welfare of children with disability Three weeks (29/03/2017 to 19/04/2017) Welcoming the participants on day one and showing them their respective accommodationsRecreation activities: boat riding, soccer, volley ball, athletics and indoor games (these will be held daily from day two for three hours in the evening to ensure that participants are physically fit and reduce boredom)six hour sessions with multiple breaks every dayEntertainment and social time every evening up to 9:00 pm every day. Have a questions forum at the end of every teaching lesson to evaluate if the message was clearGive participants some simple questionnaires to answer as a way of evaluating their retentionIntroduce the participants to IDEA’s website purposely for the workshop sessions for them to give their views on how the workshop was after the three weeks and their recommendations too

School Evaluation on how the District meets the needs of Students with Disability in various Schools

Target population Strategies to meet the needs of target population Signals showing success of whole population
Students with disability Ensuring that every school management registers all disability cases and forwards them to the district education officeRandom tours to various schools to ascertain the number of students given to the ministry from each school while ensuring that none was left outContacting the parents of the disabled children to confirm their casesReleasing funds to each and every school after verification of their budget per disabled children enrolled thereDemanding an end-of semester financial report signed by all parents of the children from each school Happy children whose performance is improvingAvailability of all resources needed to handle special childrenAvailability of highly trained teachers Few complaints from parents on their children’s welfareTaking random interviews from the disabled children and listening to their progress and challenges as well

OP-ED for Advocating for the Disabled Children’s welfare through IDEA from a larger Stage

To: The California Congressperson

From: Education Superintendent California State

Subject: Creation of Awareness in California on Roles of IDEA to Student with Disability in our District Schools

Since last year, our research has it that a considerable number of disabled children have not been getting financial assistance from the government in their respective school. Others, have just been at home since the parents cannot afford school fees for their education or for the lack of knowledge on the schools that can help their children (Landrum, Cook & Tankersley, 2014). We have attributed these aspects to the lack of awareness on the parent’s part as for the existence of a government body called IDEA and its constitutional roles in ensuring that such cases are addressed. On the other hand, some schools do not have qualified teachers to handle some of the disabled cases and the school managements do not know what is required of them to mitigate the challenges; this was attributed also to lack of awareness on government agencies that can assist solve such problems.

This is to therefore request for the government’s full support in creating State-wide awareness, beyond the school settings only, on the importance and roles of IDEA in addressing the challenges of Disabled children in schools and the assistance that they can get from the school administrations, parents, society and the government in terms of financial assistance and protection from abuse both at home and school (Anthony, 2011). We plan to take the following steps to effect these State-wide IDEA awareness to all parents, teachers and administrations of various schools:

The hope of this awareness campaign is that you will advocate for this process by availing financial support and any required machinery in the efforts that we have already made so that we can all collectively assist the disable students financially, improve their social environments in schools, protect their rights and ensure that teachers are trained on the ways to handle the students and deliver the education curriculum effectively.

  • Holding public rallies in various California districts
  • Holding various TV shows on importance of IDEA and the required procedures for a disabled child to get assistance
  • Collaborating with various artists and celebrities in the State to create the awareness in their concerts
  • Publishing pamphlets and distributing them in churches and schools and in various homes to ensure that the society is aware of IDEA processes and role in regards to the disabled


Many parents, teachers and School administrators do not yet know the importance of IDEA since its conception in 1975. IDEA aims at protecting the education rights of all disabled students as well as ensuring that the government supports them financially. It has been set to see to it that qualified teachers are trained and Schools enrol all students in-discriminatively (Etscheidt & Curran, 2010). The creation of such awareness on IDEA will help all the involved stakeholders to know the processes involved in advocating for education rights for the disabled while ensuring transparency and accountability.


Anthony, F. R. (2011). History of Special Education

Apling, R. N., Jones, N. L., & Library of Congress. (2007). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Analysis of changes made by P.L. 108-446. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Etscheidt, S., & Curran, C. M. (2010). Reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004): The peer-reviewed research requirement. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 21(1), 29-39. doi:10.1177/1044207309360204

Jesteadt, L. (2012). Principals’ knowledge of special education policies and procedures: Does it matter in leadership?

Landrum, T., Cook, B. G., & Tankersley, M. (2014). Special education past: Perspectives from the field.

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