IDEAs That Provide a Solution When the Courts Have Disabled the System 51
afflictions. 14 Under the IDEA, recognized disabilities include: intellectual impairment; learning
disability; physical, cognitive, or emotional developmental delays; physical disabilities (blindness,
deafness, etc.); “serious emotional disturbance;” disabilities falling within the autism spectrum;
and other health impairments. 15 Educators use instruction and intervention methods “to meet the
individual needs of each child with a disability," 16 also known as special education. 17 Additionally,
educators and parents create an individualized education program, also known as an IEP. An IEP
is a “written statement for each child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised in
accordance with [parental consent].” 18 IEPs are creatures of statutory instruction, created in 1975
by Congress. 19 Courts analyze the school’s use of the IEP’s process to create and implement an
IEP, as well as the results achieved, to determine if a child with a disability has been provided a
free appropriate public education (FAPE) in compliance with the IDEA. 20
B. Legislative History
In the United States, disabled students have historically been denied access to public
education. 21 In the mid-twentieth century, the federal government partnered with various family
organizations to develop education “practices for children with disabilities and their families.” 22
This effort paved the way for special education programs at the state and local levels. 23
Unfortunately, the 1960’s brought only miniscule changes to special education. 24 It was far more
common for individuals with disabilities to be placed in institutions or asylums during this time. 25
Unfortunately, these institutions provided no educational or rehabilitative services. 26 Only the
basic needs of food and shelter were provided. 27 Additionally, public schools only educated one
14 See supra Part II.A.
15 20 U.S.C. § 1401( 3)(a)–(b) (2012); see also Christy Marlett, The Effects of the IDEA Reauthorization of 2004 and
the No Child Left Behind Act on Families with Autistic Children: Allocation of Burden of Proof, Recovery of Witness
Fees, and Attainment of Proven Educational Methods for Autism, 18 KAN. J.L. & PUB. POL'Y 53, 53 (2008) (describing
the autism spectrum to include, “autistic disorder…, pervasive development disorder…[A]sperger’s syndrome, Rett’s
syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder”); see generally Andrew M.I. Lee, The 13 Conditions Covered Under
IDEA, UNDERSTOOD (2017), https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/special-services/special-education-basics/conditions-covered-under-idea.
16 Off. of Special Educ. & Rehab Services, U.S. Dep’t of Educ., Thirty-five Years of Progress in Educating Children
with Disabilities through IDEA at 1 (2010), http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/idea35/history/idea-35-
18 20 U.S.C. § 1401( 14) (2012).
19 Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 94 Pub. L. 142, 89 Stat. 773 (1975) (definition of an IEP, sec.
4, ( 18)).
20 See generally Rowley, 458 U.S. 176.
21 Megan McGovern, Least Restrictive Environment: Fulfilling the Promises of IDEA, 21 WIDENER L. REV. 117, 118
(2015); see also Off. of Special Educ. & Rehab Services, supra note 16, at 3.
22 Off. of Special Educ. & Rehab Services, supra note 16, at 4.
24 Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1966, Pub. L. 89–750, § 161, 80 Stat. 1191, 1204 (1966) (amendment
to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 which established a federal grant to help states provide
education to disabled children).
25 Off. of Special Educ. & Rehab Services, supra note 16, at 3 (noting that state institutions in 1967 were home to
nearly 200,000 individuals with disabilities).