The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that provides funding to states and localities to support them in educating students with disabilities by protecting their rights, meeting their individual educational needs, and improving results. The primary purpose of this law is to provide a free appropriate public education specifically designed to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. This entry describes the background of this landmark legislation, the structure of the law, and the major provisions that school district personnel need to follow. The entry concludes with a discussion of the impact of IDEA since its first iteration in 1975 (then titled the Education for All Handicapped Children Act).
Before IDEA, few special education programs existed for children with ...
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