Over the years the Government has provided numerous rights to individuals with disabilities. These rights only came about from the combined efforts of parents and professionals. These years have brought about many improvements.
Public Law (PL) 94-142 is the starting point of legislation for special education. PL 94-142 consists of six major components. These components are FAPE (free appropriate public education), LRE (least restrictive environment), IEP (individualized education program), procedural due process, nondiscriminatory assessment and parental participation. (FAPE), A free appropriate public education states that regardless of severity of disabilities, a child must be provided with an education in line with their disability with no cost. Other services can also be included in this education if needed. (LRE), The least restrictive environment states that children with disabilities must be educated to the greatest extent possible with students who have no disabilities. The environment must be in line with the student's needs. (IEP), An individualized education program is a plan written by professionals and parents for the student with disabilities. The IEP must state the present level of education, yearly goals and objectives for the year, educational services, to what extent the student can participate in general education, any plans for service and their length, and evaluation every year to determine if the student's goals have been met. Procedural due process gives parents several rights pertaining to their child's education. These rights are confidently, examination of records, obtaining an independent evaluation, written notification changes proposed to their child's educational classification or placement, the right to an impartial hearing whenever there are disagreements regarding their child's educational plans and representation by legal counsel. Nondiscriminatory assessment is the assessment of a child prior to placement. Students must receive several types of assessments by trained personnel that are free of bias from race, culture or language. Parental participation requires parent involvement in the decision making process that affects their child's education. (Gargiulo, R., 2006, p. 5051). Public Law (PL) 94-142 consists of these six components.
Public Law 99-457 is the 1986 amendments to PL 94-142. They are not actually amendments but additions to PL 94-142. The components of this law affect preschoolers with special needs. It states that preschoolers do not have to be labeled with a specific disability. It does require that the students age 3 to 5 receive a free public education appropriate to their disability. If a school district fails to comply they could lose federal funding. The student must receive a multidisciplinary assessment conducted by professionals. The student must also have a written IFSP, individualized family service plan. It has a review period of six months to decide if it is still the right course of action. This IFSP must be developed within 45 days from the initial referral date. (Gargiulo, R., 2006, p. 52-53).
Public Law 101-476 is the 1990 amendments to PL 94-142. This was the year it was renamed IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Congress recognized that teenagers with disabilities must be prepared for life after public school. Therefore requiring students to have an ITP (individual transition plan), as part of their IEP. The ITP coordinates activities and links to help the student transition to post school activities such as independent living, job training, and/or additional schooling. PL 101-476 helped provide additional services such as social work and rehabilitation counseling. Autism and brain injuries were also added as distinct disability categories. Another component states that individual states no longer have immunity for violating IDEA. (Gargiulo, R., 2006, p. 53).