History of Current Law
(Borrowed, in part, from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision in Schaffer v. Weast, 2005 and the Circuit Court opinion in J.L. and M.L., and their minor daughter, K.L. v. Mercer Island (WA) School District, 2007.
Congress first passed IDEA as part of the Education of the Handicapped Act in 1970, 84 Stat. 175
Subsequently, Congress amended IDEA in the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 89 Stat. 773.
At the time, the majority of disabled children in America were "either totally excluded from schools or sitting idly in regular classrooms awaiting the time when they were old enough to `drop out,' " H. R. Rep. No. 94-332, p. 2 (1975)
Many of the severely handicapped children did not attend school
Hendrick Hudson District Bd. of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982), a case which interprets the EHA and narrowly defined "free appropriate public education."To the extent that the Supreme Court at that time was interpreting a statute which had no requirement (1) that programming for disabled students be designed to transition them to post-secondary education, independent living or economic self-sufficiency or (2) that schools review IEPs to determine whether annual goals were being attained, the Court must consider that opinion superseded by later legislation, and the District's and ALJ's reliance on it misplaced.
IDEA Amendments of 1997, change the outcome perspective of special education from "advancing from grade to grade" (Rowley) to considering the outcome for students requiring a specialized education.
". . . One of the key purposes of the IDEA Amendments of 1997 was to 'promote improved education results for children with disabilities through . . . educational experiences that prepare them for later education challenges and employment.' (H.Rep. No. 105-95, p. 82 (1997); S.Rep. No. 105-17, p. 4 (1997)).
Disability education case law repeatedly emphasizes the necessity of deriving a "meaningful educational benefit" from the programs provided pursuant to the IDEA. Deal v. Hamilton Co., supra; M.L. v. Federal Way School District, 387 F.3d 1001, 1126 (9th Cir. 2004); Adams v. State of Oregon, 195 F.3d 1141, 1149 (9th Cir. 1999). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed., Houghton Mifflin, 2000) defines "meaningful" as: "1. Having meaning, function or purpose. 2. Fraught with meaning, significant" (emphasis supplied). See J.L. and M.L., and their minor daughter, K.L. v. Mercer Island (WA) School District, 2007.
IDEA Amendments of 2004 (I.D.E.I.A.) is the current law that is supported by No Child Left behind. For a better understanding of the law and how it is interpreted, see Goleta Union Elementary Sch. Dist. v. Andrew Ordway (C.D. Cal. 2002), Judith Scruggs, Administratix of Estate of Daniel Scruggs v. Meriden Bd. of Ed., E. Ruocco, M.B.Iacobelli ,and Donna Mule (U.S. District Court, Connecticuit, 2005), Schaffer v. Weast and K.L. v. Mercer Island (WA) School District,2007
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