Special Ed Laws
There are numerous laws and regulations that govern special education along with policies, guidelines and other documentation. It can be confusing and at first, overwhelming.
The Federal Government, in 1972 passed the first special education legislation, now titled “IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act”. This law required local school districts to provide a free and appropriate public education to ALL students with or without disabilities. It was landmark legislation and, as amended over the years, still governs special education in the United States. The US Department of Education has also issued regulations which explain in more detail the law as set forth in the IDEA. Each state, including Connecticut, has passed their own version of IDEA. Sometimes the state versions of the law are exactly the same, sometimes they differ slightly. However they differ, states are NOT allowed to pass laws that provide less or fewer protections than those set forth in federal law. Each state also issues regulations to explain in more detail the law. There is also a body of case law (decisions by courts) which creates precedents in terms of how the special education laws have affected specific situations.
There are many resources to help you wade through these materials and that can give you guidance as you begin to learn about the special education process. You may want to consider taking an advocacy course to learn more, or to contact an advocate or an attorney to help you find the answers to specific questions. The CT State Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education has consultants who are assigned to school districts and they can also help answer some of your questions. Call us at 888-453-4975 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or with specific questions.
Here are a few resources to get you started on your journey.
Good website for learning more about special education laws: www.wrightslaw.com