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A look back...

The U.S. Congress enacted the Education for All Handicapped Children Act ((Public Law 94-142), in 1975 to support states and localities in protecting the rights of, meeting the individual needs of, and improving the results for infants, toddlers, and youth with disabilities and their families. The four purposes of PL 94-142 were:
  • “to assure that all children with disabilities have available to them…a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs”
  • “to assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents…are protected”
  • “to assist States and localities to provide for the education of all children with disabilities”
  • “to assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate all children with disabilities”

This landmark law is currently enacted as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 1997 and in 2004.

Improving educational results for children with disabilities requires a continued focus on the full implementation of IDEA to ensure that each student’s educational placement and services are determined on an individual basis, according to the unique needs of each child, and are provided in the least restrictive environment. The focus must be on teaching and learning that use individual approaches to accessing the general education curriculum and that support learning and high achievement for all. (Excerpt from Twenty-Five Years of Progress in Educating Children with Disabilities Through IDEA)


Orange County Public Schools uses IDEA funds to support children with disabilities in the following ways:
  • Contracted services for physical and occupational therapy, hearing interpreters, and mental health counseling
  • Personnel to support classrooms and campuses
  • Purchase of classroom equipment and supplies for new exceptional units
  • Purchase and repair of assistive technology equipment
  • Resource materials and training for teachers, parents, and paraprofessionals working with students with disabilities. 


Bureau of Exceptional Education And Student Services
Florida Department of Education