Statutues, Regulations and Case Law

the more you know about the special education law, the better. As a student at Virginia Tech, I learned about the law from Dr. Phil Jones. Dr. Jones was president of CEC in 1975, the year landmark special education legislation (P.L. 94-142) was passed. He had an instrumental role in the passage of 94-142. He explained the how's and the whys of special education law like no one else could. I'll never forget reading his book and figuring out through the notations and quotes that he was the one who spoke at the signing ceremony and shook President Ford's hand. I was so awed that being in his presence left me pretty tounge tied for about 6 weeks. During my time at Virginia Tech, I felt honored to be his student. Dr. Jones passed away in 1994 but left a legacy through his work and his students. If you are a person who benefits somehow from special education law, thank Phil Jones.

Statutues and Regulations

A new site! The U.S. Department of Education has released the new regulations for Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The final regulations are intended to further the goal that no child - including each and every one of America's students with disabilities - is left behind. The Department has prepared a user-friendly web site to help guide the public through these changes. In addition to the actual text of the regulations, the site includes an analysis of the public's comments, a summary of the major changes since publication of the proposed regulations, and several appendices, including an index and additional guidance for implementing the regulations. A fact sheet on the new regulations can be found at the site.

IDEA 2004 gives us the definitions of disabilities, LEA and SEA obligations and more. When faced with a problem, review these informative pages before you take action.

Download a copy of IDEIA Regulations to use in your work.

IDEA Practices assists teachers, school administrators and related services professions implement IDEA 97.

'Lectric Law has information on the legal process including how to stay sane when you go to court. It's all easy to understand, too.

Learn about Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects students with disabilities receiving services from agencies that receive federal funds.

This Overview of Section 504 was written by David M. Richards, Attorney at Law, to serve as an introduction to the various duties imposed by Section 504 on public elementary and secondary schools.


Case law is very important in special education. Case law emerges when parties disagree and one party files a hearing. If they disagree with the findings of the hearing officer, they can follow their state appeal process, then file in court. Federal district court decisions are binding for all those living in the circuit. Supeme Court decisions apply to all of us. Many times elements of court decisions are incorporated into legislation when the law is reauthorized.

The United States Supreme Court has heard many cases affecting special education. Here you can look at the docket, read opinions and learn more about the court.

In Winkelman v. Parma City Sch. Dist., No. 05-983, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants parents independent, enforceable legal rights, which encompass the entitlement to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for their child. The decision means that non-attorney parents can litigate IDEA claims in federal court unrepresented by legal counsel, because they are acting on their own behalf. The Court side-stepped the question of whether IDEA authorizes a parent to litigate another party's (the child's) claims. The Winkelman’s sued their school district after an administrative hearing officer rejected their claim that their son Jacob's IEP failed to provide him with FAPE as required by IDEA. As the case went on, the Winkelmans proceeded without an attorney. The district court agreed with the hearing officer that the school district had provided Jacob with a FAPE, and the parents appealed to the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit held that IDEA does not authorize parents to appear pro se in asserting a child's rights, a question on which other federal courts were divided.

In Board of Education v. Tom F, 06-637, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed a federal appellate decision allowing the father of a learning-disabled child to seek private school tuition reimbursement from New York City without first giving the city's public school program a chance to meet the boy's needs. Just nine days after hearing oral arguments in Board of Education v. Tom F., 06-637, the Court split 4-4, thereby affirming the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' finding in favor of Mr. F.—the boy's father, former Viacom chief Tom Freston.

starSchaffer v. Weast (Case No. 04-698) found that the party seeking a due-process hearing under the IDEA is the one bearing the burden of proof. Most hearing requests come from parents challenging their children’s individualized education programs, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor noted in the majority opinion. “Absent some reason to believe that Congress intended otherwise, … we will conclude that the burden of persuasion lies where it usually falls, upon the party seeking relief,” she wrote. This is a huge victory for school districts. The Potomac Almanac has a chronology of the case.

In Arlington Central School District v. Murphy (No. 05-18) the court held 6-3 that the IDEA does not authorize parents who win legal disputes over their children’s special education plans to be reimbursed for the costs of experts, such as expert witnesses or nonlawyer consultants who assist them in their dealings with their school districts.

Board of Educ. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 206-07 (1982) reviewed the concept of a free appropriate public education. From this case the Rowley Standard emerged. The Supreme Court held that, in reviewing whether a proposed program is appropriate, inquiry generally should focus on two issues:

1. whether the State has complied with the procedures set forth in the IDEA, and

2. whether the particular individualized education program (IEP) developed through the IDEA’s procedures was "reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits".

starThe Bazelon Center-Legal advocacy for the civil rights and human dignity of people with mental disabilities.

Wright's Law is great for advocates and those wanting to keep up with case law.

LawCrawler Search allows you to search for legal information.

Internet Law Library

The Council for Disability Rights works to advance rights and enhance the lives of people with disabilities.

The Education Law Association is a nonprofit, nonadvocacy organization open to anyone interested in education law. Members include professors, teachers, administrators, attorneys in private practice, law firms, government agencies, associations, and universities.

A Parent's Guide to Special Ed/Special Needs by Maiya Lueptow in consultation with Friends of Special Education explains the special education process, problem solving and resources.

Americans with Disabilities Act Document Center contains copies of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), ADA regulations, technical assistance manuals prepared by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the and other United States Department of Justice(DOJ), technical assistance documents sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and reviewed by EEOC or DOJ.

The Pennsylvania School Reform Network has fact sheets on assistive technology, compensatory education, early intervention, extended school year, IEPs, discipline, placement and more!

ALSO! provides a comprehensive, uniform, and useful compilation of links to all on-line sources of American law that are available without charge. This site contains additional links to sources of commentary and practice aids that are available without charge (or available at a reasonable charge from governmental and nonprofit providers).

Law Resources on the Internet from the James G. Gee Library has links to education law sites, legal search engines and more.

School Law links from the National School Boards Association and the Council of School Attorneys has federal links, and research web sites.

Reed Martin, J.D. is an informational resource for parents and school personnel advocating for children with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Behavior/Emotional Disorder, and more.

Handicapped Individuals and the Law provides information from the U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library.

Administrative Rules for Special Education in Michigan brought to you by the Michigan Department of Education.

Contact Legislators

Legislators really do listen to their constituents. I have gotten replies to my e-mails, calls and faxes from President Clinton, Senator Bill Frist, and Congresswoman Blanche Lambert. If you have a concern about new legislation, let them know. Sometimes you direct their attention to important issues. These links will help you find your federal legislators.

To contact your elected representative, visit the House of Representatives home page.

Or, to contact your elected senator, visit the U.S. Senate home page.

The president can be reached here.

The Library of Congress has a wealth of information.

Lesson Planning Teaching Research & Scholarship
Grants Statutes, Regulations & Case Law Contact Lawmakers
Government Agencies Read E-Journals, Newspapers & Magazines Provide Parental Support
Employment Organizations Support for People with Disabilities
Free Stuff Behavior Management Inclusion
IEPs Learning TBA

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