Historical Court Cases and Landmark legislation on Special Education

Historical court cases and landmark legislation on special education schools have had various impacts on parents, children as well as the school and have directly impacted on various activities and rules that govern special education in our schools today. Though there are various historical court rulings on special education, in this paper I will emphasize on four cases to show how their ruling have had an impact on today’s special education.

The first case to discuss was presented in 1972 by the Association for retarded citizens (PARC) vs. the Pennsylvania where children were not allowed in public school if they possessed certain characteristics. Some of the children were told that they could not attend schools because of their horrible appearances, which could otherwise be described as ugly to look at. The court ruling held that every child had a right to free and a public education. This ruling has impact on special education even today in that, it has enabled every child to have access of a free public education since it is right of children to receive education no matter of their disabilities or looks. It has also enabled children to freely interact with the others in school even though physical appearance of some of them may be horrible.

In the case presented in 1979 by the Armstrong vs. Kline in Pennsylvania where the students who had disabilities were not allowed to go to the summer school even if the program was provided to the enabled students. The parents made a request to the district to provide this program to special students who have disabilities. The court ruling held that students who have severe disabilities are entitled the right of Extended School Year (ESY). Determination of this would be the by the use specific data, which will be part of individual program in education. The impact of this ruling is that children with disabilities up to now receive education in a long duration over the year than the other children especially in the schools of special education for students with disabilities.
In another case presented in 1988, Honig vs. Doe, two students with diagnosed behavior disorders where each of them suspended because of acting out. The parents were of the view that, both these students were being punished because of their disability. The court held that students who have handicaps should not be expelled out of school due to handicap related behaviors. The impact of this ruling is that in the process of punishing a student with disabilities, one should think on what type of punishment he should give. This has prompted teachers to devise proper means and ways of punishing these students in schools.
The fourth case to discuss here was presented on 1989, Daniel R.R vs. The state education board. Parents wanted Daniel to be put in main stream school program even though he was disruptive and yelling in the class. The court held that schools can have use of inquiry of two parts so that they can determine extend to which a child needed to be mainstreamed or to determine that regular classroom had a learning room environment. The impact of this ruling is that a child who is disruptive can not be placed in one classroom with the other children since he can make the classroom not to have a good learning environment, which will affect the learning of the other children. This is what is put in practice even today and that is why there are special schools for students with such disabilities.


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