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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides the foundation overview on the history, evolution, and trends regarding the education of students with disabilities. Moving from an era of almost total exclusion (or at best separate education) that lasted until the 1970s to the evolution of a zero reject philosophy that all students with disabilities are entitled to public education has resulted in considerable time, effort, and resources devoted to this population. This is the only field of education law that has its own comprehensive, complex, and detailed set of statutory rights, remedies, and procedures. The current political trend related to school choice, in addition to reducing resources for public education generally, threatens the protections currently in place for this population of students. The chapter traces the history, provides an overview of the three key statutes, discusses the substantial level of judicial attention to these issues (including a large body of Supreme Court attention), frames the areas of unresolved attention, and highlights current issues and trends under the political forces that could turn back fifty years of progress.

Keywords: Students with disabilities, Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Free appropriate public education, Mental health, Mainstreaming

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