In 1991 the Public Law 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was replaced by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This law was passed to provide free and appropriate public education to every child with a disability. It requires that each child with a disability “have access to the program best suited to that child’s special needs which is as close as possible to a normal child’s educational program” (Martin, 1978). The Individualized education program (IEP) was developed to help provide a written record of students’ needs and procedures for each child that receives special education services. The IEP will list all the services to be provided, the student's performance level, academic performance, and modifications in place for the student.
Human rights to education are important to the right to a fair education. Article 26.2 which explains the human right to equality in education and states that (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted in 1975, United States public schools educated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. Until that time, many states had laws that excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school. These included children who were blind, deaf and children labeled "emotionally disturbed" or "mentally retarded." Many of these children lived at state institutions where they received limited or no educational services. Having a disability does not automatically qualify a student for special education services under the IDEA. The disability must result in the student needing additional or different services to participate in school. For example, a child who is diagnosed autistic. Children with disabilities who qualify for special education are also automatically protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Research shows that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 shifted the focus of IDEA to improve teaching and learning by emphasizing the individual educational plan as a primary tool for...