Since the 1960s, there has been a virtual avalanche of federal legislation that relates directly or indirectly to individuals with disabilities, particularly children and youth. Use the links below to explore several of the most influential laws. These form the core of current protection against discrimination and current guarantees of equal educational opportunity that individuals with disabilities have in our nation.

IDEA – Individual with Disabilities Education Act

IDEA is our nation’s special education law. The IDEA guides how states, school districts, and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

ESSA | Every Student Succeeds Act

On December 10, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law as Public Law Number 114-95. ESSA reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 “to ensure that every child achieves.” ESSA is the nation’s general education law and, as such, has been revised by Congress many times over the years. The last reauthorization took place in 2001 and was called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). ESSA replaces NCLB.

Section 504

Before there was IDEA, there was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Section 504 of this Act continues to play an important role in education, especially for students with disabilities who may not qualify for special education services under IDEA.

ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it possible for everyone with a disability to live a life of freedom and equality. Passed by the Congress and signed into law by the President on July 26, 1990, the ADA is the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities.

Texas State Law

Texas Legal Framework

The Texas Legal Framework website contains a summary of Texas state and federal requirements for special education by topic. Other resources include the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, a side-by-side view of Special Education Rules and Regulations, and A Guide to the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Process.

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Procedural Safeguards

Check out our informative series of videos about the Procedural Safeguards and parents’ rights. The topics include prior written notice & parental consent, independent educational evaluation, ARD committee, discipline, educational records, and resolving disagreements.