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Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was signed into law in 1975 and governs special education services for students across the country. Congress passed the law to ensure all students have access to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Currently, over six million students are receiving services under the IDEA.

Even though the IDEA has resulted in positive changes for students with disabilities, there are still issues that need to be addressed. Parents and school districts must navigate a process that is overly burdensome, and results in a lack of collaboration and trust. Laws and regulations that deal with student discipline, due process, and placement tend to result in adversarial relationships between parents and school staff. Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings focus more on addressing procedural requirements instead of what each student needs to succeed. The law should promote collaboration between parents and schools by removing these procedural hurdles. This would create an environment that promotes cooperation and directly impact students in a positive way by building trust between parents and school staff.

The lack of funding from the federal government remains a constant barrier to fulfilling the promises of the IDEA and providing students with the resources they need to succeed. When the IDEA became law, the federal government promised to fund 40 percent of the cost. Yet, public schools have only received approximately 15 percent of the cost, forcing school districts and local taxpayers to make up the difference. Congress must allocate more funding for students with disabilities to fully meet the goals contained in the IDEA. This should include funding that is at least equal to the national average per pupil expenditure for students served under the IDEA. As costs continue to rise, additional funding will be needed to meet the needs of students and thus the problem of inadequate funding is further compounded. To live up to the promises of the IDEA, Congress must act to address these funding concerns.

COSSBA Requests

  • Amend IDEA to ensure parents and school districts can fully collaborate and provide an education that meets the needs of individual students.

  • Allocate more funding for students with disabilities that is at least equal to the national average per pupil expenditure for students served under the IDEA.

Position Paper

Click the button to download the COSSBA Position Paper on this issue.

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