Reflections on the New Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act
45 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2006
The new Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act leaves the basics of federal special education law intact, but makes important changes along the periphery. Special education is now much more closely aligned with the No Child Left Behind initiative. The new law allocates funds for the education of children not yet found eligible for special education and pushes school districts to provide services to special education-eligible children in religious and other private schools. It changes eligibility determination rules for children with learning disabilities. It alters dispute resolution procedures. Finally, it makes disciplinary procedures somewhat harsher for children with disabilities, while still retaining the requirement that no child with a disability ever be excluded entirely from school. The new law, however, does not provide clarity on two important issues of interpretation of current law, the treatment of parent demands for less restrictive educational placements for their children and the disposition of parent requests for intensive out-of-school services for children with autism. This article discusses the changes that the new law has made and the areas where statutory clarification would be desirable. It concludes by describing a vision of special education that the new law, to some degree, helps to advance - a vision of special education that is not so much special as part and parcel of the educational enterprise as a whole.
Keywords: special education, disability, education
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