Federal Laws

Three federal laws protect children with disabilities from discrimination and provide equal rights to services and schooling.

  1. The Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 (1973) requires school districts to provide a free, appropriate public education to children with disabilities who do not qualify under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  2. The Individuals with Disabilities Education ACT (IDEA) (passed in 1975 and reauthorized most recently in 2004) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment, according to their needs. IDEA established regulations for early intervention programs for children from birth to 2 years and special education and related services for children 3-21.
  3. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law (1990, amended in 2008) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the areas of employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

(Shelton, et al.)