Background on Special Education and IDEA

Children with their parents walking to school

Montgomery County Public Schools/Bill Mills:

Reauthorize IDEA to Guarantee Free Public Education for Students with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), originally passed in 1975, was reauthorized in 2004 as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. IDEA’s primary purpose is to provide access to a free, appropriate public education to every child with a disability.

IDEA had been scheduled for reauthorization in 2011, but reauthorization could be delayed until 2015 or later. Before addressing IDEA, Congress is expected to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which may be completed in 2014.

Bipartisan Support for IDEA

During the last reauthorization in 2004, NSBA had secured excellent bipartisan support in Congress that helped negotiate final language in the bill. NSBA lobbied successfully for significant changes that shifted program emphasis from legal process to improving education outcomes and accountability for all students.

Although NSBA had strong bipartisan congressional support, many in the disability community felt that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act had lost some protections for students. As a result, many individuals and interest groups have continued to monitor actions by school officials.

Although many in the disability community have seen positive shifts from the new legislation, others remain dissatisfied with the current language of the law. We expect that some advocates will attempt to regain many compliance requirements that were terminated.


Go to top