Legal Proceedings and Legislation Associated with Learning Disabilities
People with disabilities also began to be identified as a group whose rights had been denied. In the years following Brown v. Board of Education, court cases were decided that underlined the rights of individuals with disabilities to a free, appropriate education. Other cases supported nondiscriminatory special education placement of individuals from minority groups in the United States. Some of the important court cases relating to individuals with disabilities demonstrate a progression of increasing rights for individuals with disabilities (see also Murdick, Gartin, & Crabtree, 2002; Rothstein, 1999; Yell, 1997):
- 1954: Brown v. Board of Education (Kansas). The Supreme Court determined that “separate-but-equal” education is illegal.
- 1970: Diana v. State Board of Education (California). The court ruled that children cannot be placed in special education based on culturally biased tests.
- 1972: Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC) v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Mills v. Board of Education (District of Columbia) established the right to education for students with disabilities and found that denial of education violates the 14th Amendment.
- 1977: Larry P. v. Riles (California). A court ruled that the use of standardized IQ tests for placement into special education classes for students with educable mental retardation was discriminatory.
- 1988: Honig v. Doe (California). This decision was concerned with extensive suspensions of students with emotional disturbances from school for aggressive behavior which the court determined was disability related. The court ruled that a suspension of longer than 10 days was effectively a change in placement, requiring all the necessary procedures governing a change in placement.
- 1992: Oberti v. Board of Education of the Borough of Clementon School District (New Jersey). A federal district court ruled that a self-contained special education class was not the least restrictive for a student with Down syndrome. The court ruled that school districts were obligated to first consider regular class placement, with supplementary aids and services, before considering alternative placements.
Along with this litigation, laws began to be passed that provided further support for the rights of students with disabilities. In the following text, some of the most significant legislation involving individuals with disabilities is described (see also Murdick, Gartin, & Crabtree, 2002; Rothstein, 1999; Yell, 1997). This legislation includes Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the most significant law for special education, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (PL 94-142).
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