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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): Selected Judicial Developments Following the 2004 Reauthorization

Nancy Lee Jones
Legislative Attorney

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the major federal statute for the education of children with disabilities. IDEA both authorizes federal funding for special education and related services and, for states that accept these funds, sets out principles under which special education and related services are to be provided. The cornerstone of IDEA is the principle that states and school districts make available a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities. IDEA has been the subject of numerous reauthorizations; the most recent reauthorization was P.L. 108-446 in 2004. Congress is currently beginning the process of identifying potential issues for the next reauthorization. Some of the issues raised by judicial decisions include the following: 
  • What amount of educational progress is required to meet FAPE standards? 
  • What educational benefits are required to be put in an individualized education program (IEP)? 
  • What use of seclusion and restraints is allowed (if any) under IDEA? 
  • Are all settlement agreements enforceable in federal court or only those reached through dispute resolution or mediation? 
  • Is information disclosed in a resolution session confidential? 
  • What are the specific rights of a parent of a child with a disability? 
  • What are the rights of a noncustodial parent of a child with a disability? 
  • Does the Supreme Court’s decision in Schaffer v. Weast correctly allocate the burden of proof in IDEA cases? 
  • Are compensatory educational services required for the same amount of time that the appropriate services were withheld? 
  • Does the Supreme Court’s decision in Arlington Central School District v. Murphy correctly deny reimbursement for expert witness fees? 
  • Does there need to be more detailed guidance on systemic compliance complaints? 
This report examines the Supreme Court decisions, and selected lower court decisions since July 1, 2005, the effective date of P.L. 108-446.

Date of Report: February 2, 2011
Number of Pages: 33
Order Number: R40521
Price: $29.95

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