Laws & Regulations

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the current name for Public Law 94-142, the 1975 law that pioneered special education services to the nation’s students with disabilities. The IDEA has been reauthorized and updated to emphasize the importance of parental and regular educator participation in the planning process. Regulations have been written by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in Washington, D.C. The law and its implementing regulations are complex.

Pennsylvania implements these federal rules through its own regulations, known as Chapter 14. Chapter 14 also includes special protections for students with mental retardation that have their origin in a 1972 federal district court consent decree (PARC).

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1983 guarantees reasonable accommodations to all citizens whose physical or mental condition significantly impairs a major life activity, such as learning.

The more recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parallels Section 504, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability.

Special education has been the subject of significant court decisions. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court provided guidance to the meaning of an “appropriate” education in Rowley. In Honig the Supreme Court established special requirements in the discipline of students with disabilities. A recent Supreme Court decision, Garrett F., reinforced a school district’s responsibility to provide certain related services. A 3rd circuit court decision, Oberti, has defined the meaning of “inclusion.”

Given the complexity of special education law, regulations, and judicial decisions, the district extends an invitation to any parent to meet with district staff to discuss any aspect of special education.

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