Education for All Handicapped Children Act
Education for All Handicapped Children Act
Known as Public Law 94-142, a federal law mandating that all handicapped children have available to them free public education suited to their needs.
The Education for All Handicapped Children Act seeks to assure equal opportunity in education for all handicapped children between the ages of five and eighteen, and in most cases for children 3-5 and 18-21 as well. Handicapped children may not be excluded from public school because of their disability and school districts are required to provide special services to meet the needs of handicapped children. The law requires that handicapped children be taught in a setting that resembles as closely as possible the regular school program, while also meeting their special needs. Programs vary according to the individual needs of the special student. Some handicapped children may be placed in a regular classroom, but have special resources available to them; other students may need training at a special school. The law provides for screening so that children with special needs are recognized and treated accordingly. The law also requires that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) be developed for each special needs student, with input from the student and student's parents. Students must have access to specialized materials and equipment if necessary, such as Braille books for blind students. Handicapped students are also entitled to have specially trained teachers to meet their particular needs. The law provides for ongoing monitoring of the handicapped student's program and an appeals process for both the school and the parents of the handicapped child, so that no child is put in or kept out of special education without the consent and agreement of parents and teachers.
The first step in the special education process is to identify children with various educational handicaps. States and school districts operate programs to find children with disabilities, and to make their parents aware as soon as possible the resources available to them. Children with a wide range of handicaps are eligible for special education. Blind, deaf, or physically handicapped children are eligible, as are children who may have a mild speech disorder such as a stammer, a learning disability that makes it very difficult for a child to learn to read, or a behavioral or emotional problem that interferes with learning. In some cases, the parents may identify the
If parents or school officials note a possible problem in a child, the child is referred for an evaluation. The law requires that parents be notified in writing, in their native language, of the reason for the referral, and be given a description of the evaluation process. The parents' written consent is required before a child can undergo the evaluation. The parents may also request, in writing, that their child be evaluated.
The next step in the process is evaluation. The law specifies that the evaluation be done by a multidisciplinary team, and not by a single person. Different states have different teams, but they usually include a social worker, a psychologist, and the child's classroom teacher. The parents must be a part of the evaluation team by law. The law recognizes that parents know the child best, and their input is essential. The child will usually be given a variety of standardized tests to determine specific aptitudes and weaknesses. The evaluation team may also observe the child in the classroom, review his or her classroom work, and consult with a guidance counselor, tutor, or other school staff who has worked closely with the child.
If the child is found to need special education, the parents will be asked to meet with a special team to help draw up an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This team is separate from the evaluation team, though it may include some of the same school district staff. The child may be transferred to a special school, or allowed to work with a specialist in the school, depending on what the team decides will help the child most. Parents must give their written consent before the IEP is implemented.
The law requires that the IEP be reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year. Also, all students in special education must be reevaluated at least once every three years. If the parents or the school requests it, the reevaluation may be conducted sooner.
Shore, Kenneth. The Special Education Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents and Educators. New York: Teachers College Press, 1986.
National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
Address: P.O. Box 1492
Washington, DC 20013
Telephone: toll-free (800)884-8200; (202) 695-0285