The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) represents the pinnacle of the equal education movement. IDEA has roots in the same civil rights movement that gave rise to Brown v. Bd. of Education. It is a four-part piece of legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. From 1975 to 1997, IDEA was known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). In 1997, Congress reauthorized EHA and changed the title to IDEA. IDEA was amended in 2004 with regulations updated in 2006 and 2011. The overarching goal of IDEA is to provide disabled students the same opportunity for education as students without disabilities.
IDEA is composed of four parts, with a primary focus on parts A and B. Part A lays out the general provisions of the law while Part B covers assistance for education of all children with disabilities. Part C details coverage for infants and toddlers with disabilities. For the purposes of this act, infants and toddlers are defined as children from birth to age three. The final section of IDEA, Part D, discusses national support programs that are administered at the federal level. Each part of IDEA has remained relatively in tact since its original enactment in 1975.
There are six elements that guide the practice of IDEA, or act as its main guide posts. These elements are:
In order for those elements to work effectively, there are several other components necessary to IDEA. They include: Confidentiality of Information, Transition Services, and Discipline.
Notable Supreme Court Cases:
Not every child with learning and attention issues is eligible for special education services under IDEA. First, a child must be found to have one of the 13 kinds of disabilities that IDEA covers. They are: