In 1975, Congress enacted landmark federal legislation that changed the face of educational history for students with disabilities. Originally passed as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, this law was amended in 1990 to become the Americans with Disabilities Education Act. The most current reauthorization is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004. Echoing society's concern regarding equitable treatment of individuals with disabilities, this law mandates that all children and youth with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education, regardless of the nature or severity of the identified cognitive, emotional, or physical impairment. Coupled with related early childhood legislation passed in 1986 in the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments, these laws require public school systems to both identify ...

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