Who is Eligible Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act?
35 Journal of Law and Education 291 (2006)
45 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 9, 2006
Determining who is eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) has plagued decision-makers for over three decades, leading to both over- and under-identification of eligible children and the disproportionate identification of minority students as disabled. The statutory requirements for finding a child IDEA-eligible appear straightforward: a child must have an enumerated disability that adversely affects educational performance and by reason thereof the child must need special education. Application of these provisions has proven problematic, however, and the authorities are divided as to what constitutes "educational performance," when is it "adversely affected" by the disability, under what circumstances does a child "need" special education and what is "special education?" This Article explores the diverse interpretations of these terms by courts and hearing and suggests the proper application of each of the IDEA-eligibility requirements. Uniform eligibility determinations cannot be hoped for on a national level, as the definition of many of the key terms are left to the states, but this Article outlines the proper analytical framework for eligibility decisions.
Keywords: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, education law, disabilities
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