Pringle, Evelyn. “Schools Failing Children With Disabilities.” Lawsuits, Legal News & Issues, Lawsuit Settlements, Class Action Suit, Lawyer Search – LawyersAndSettlements.com. 27 Feb. 2006. Web. 12 Oct. 2010. <http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/articles/00121/school_disability.html>.
Congress passed IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975. This act requires schools to “identify children with disabilities and provide them with a need specific, free education in the least restrictive environment”. The federal government made schools change to fit the requirements of this act, yet they barely increased funding. The funding they give to schools is not nearly enough to cover the cost of the IDEA requirements. In fact, the money the federal government gives to schools for special education only amounts to 10.2% of the spending imposed by IDEA. The nations schools struggle to find the money every year and during the 1999-2000 school year, they spent $78 billion educating special needs children. The most expensive special education program is autism, and public schools are required to provide free appropriate education to autistic kids starting at age 3. IDEA also has a section which requires “mainstreaming” of handicapped kids with non-handicapped kids. Also IDEA requires each kid to have an IEP (individualized education plan). The conflict arises when parents want what is best for their children and the schools only want to provide “adequate” services. If the parents believe that the IEP developed for their child is inadequate, then they have the opportunity to challenge that IEP. They can have a “due process hearing” and if nothing is resolved, then they need to take it to court. Many lawsuits are outlined in this article, some where the parents won and some where the schools won.