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Educational Mandates

An IDEA Whose Time Has Come

IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP are meant to reflect the individualized needs of each student. The IEP must be developed by a team of experts and must be reviewed at least annually. This profound change empowered parents to demand quality education for their children with disabilities.

Interpretation and full implementation of the Rehabilitation Act and subsequent legislation have nevertheless been a challenge to disability advocates. The Commission on Civil Rights has defined discrimination, as it affects people with disabilities, somewhat differently than in other cases. Clearly, to treat those with disabilities as if they were not disabled is not analogous to being color blind to racial differences. To treat people with a disability exactly the “same” as peers without a disability is usually to exclude them from participation in a specific program or activity. The concept of appropriate “accommodation” has therefore become incorporated into policy implementation of the Rehabilitation Act mandates.


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