The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (sometimes referred to using the acronyms EAHCA or EHA, or Public Law (PL) 94-142) was enacted by the United States Congress in 1975. This act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. Public schools were required to evaluate children with disabilities and create an educational plan with parent input that would emulate as closely as possible the educational experience of non-disabled students. The act was an amendment to Part B of the Education of the Handicapped Act enacted in 1966.
The act also required that school districts provide administrative procedures so that parents of disabled children could dispute decisions made about their children’s education. Once the administrative efforts were exhausted, parents were then authorized to seek judicial review of the administration’s decision. Prior to the enactment of EHA, parents could take their disputes straight to the judiciary under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The mandatory system of dispute resolution created by EHA was an effort to alleviate the financial burden created by litigation pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act.
PL 94-142 also contains a provision that disabled students should be placed in the least restrictive environment-one that allows the maximum possible opportunity to interact with non-impaired students. Separate schooling may only occur when the nature or severity of the disability is such that instructional goals cannot be achieved in the regular classroom. Finally, the law contains a due process clause that guarantees an impartial hearing to resolve conflicts between the parents of disabled children to the school system.
The law was passed to meet four huge goals:
- To ensure that special education services are available to children who need them
- To guarantee that decisions about services to students with disabilities are fair and appropriate
- To establish specific management and auditing requirements for special education
- To provide federal funds to help the states educate students with disabilities
EHA was revised and renamed as Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990 for improvement of special education and inclusive education.
This summary is from Wikipedia.
The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.
11/14/1975--Conference report filed in Senate.
(Conference report filed in Senate, S. Rept. 94-455) Education for All Handicapped Children Act - Extends the provisions of the Education of the Handicapped Act through fiscal year 1977 and authorizes appropriations for such years. States the findings of the Congress, including that: (1) the special educational needs of handicapped children are not being fully met; (2) one million of the handicapped children in the United States are excluded entirely from the public school system and will not go through the educational process with their peers; and (3) it is in the national interest that the Federal Government assist State and local efforts to provide programs to meet the educational needs of handicapped children in order to assure equal protection of the laws. Describes the purposes of this Act, including to insure that all handicapped children have available to them special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs. Defines the terms used in this Act. States that the maximum amount of the grant to which a State is entitled under such Act shall equal the number of handicapped children aged three to twenty-one, who are receiving special education in such State, multiplied by a percentage of the average per pupil expenditure in public elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Increases such percentage from 5 to 40 percent by 1982. Requires States to distribute portions of such grants to local education agencies and intermediate educational units, to spend for administration, and to match Federal grants for specified expenditures for support services and direct services. Sets forth provisions relating to extension of grants to Territories and to Indian children. Sets forth requirements for eligibility including the following which a State must demonstrate to the Commissioner: (1) the State has in effect a policy that assures all handicapped children the right to a free appropriate public education; and (2) the State has developed a plan which requires it to assure that a free appropriate public education will be available for all handicapped children between the ages of three and eighteen within the State not later than September 1, 1978, and for all handicapped children between the ages of three and twenty-four within the State not later than September 1, 1980; and (3) each local educational agency in the State will maintain records of the individualized education program for each handicapped child and such program shall be established, reviewed, and revised. Requires applications for assistance under this Act to: (1) set forth a description of programs and procedures for the development and implementation of a comprehensive system of personnel development which shall include the in-service training of general and special educational instructional and support personnel; (2) set forth policies and procedures to assure that to the extent consistent with the number and location of handicapped children in the State who are enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools, provision is made for the participation of such children in the program assisted or carried out under this part by providing for such children special education and related services; (3) provide satisfaction assurance that Federal funds made available will not be commingled with State funds, and will be so used as to supplement and increase the level of State and local funds expended for the education of handicapped children and not to supplant such State and local funds; and (4) provide that the State has an advisory panel, appointed by the Governor or any other official authorized under State law to make such appointments, composed of individuals involved in or concerned with the education of handicapped children, including handicapped individuals, teachers, parents or guardians of handicapped children, State and local education officials, and administrators of programs for handicapped children. States that a local educational agency or an intermediate educational unit which desires to receive payments under this Act shall submit an application to the appropriate State educational agency, and such application shall: (1) provide satisfactory assurance that payments under this part will be used for excess costs directly attributable to programs which provide that all children residing within the jurisdiction of the local educational agency or the intermediate educational unit who are handicapped, regardless of the severity of their handicap, and are in need of special education and related services will be identified, located, and evaluated; and (2) provide assurances that the local educational agency or intermediate educational unit will establish, or revise, whichever is appropriate, an individualized education program of each handicapped child at the beginning of each school year and will then review and, if appropriate revise, its provisions periodically, but not less than annually. Provides that whenever a State educational agency finds that a local educational agency or an intermediate educational unit, in the administration of an application approved by the State educational agency, has failed to comply with any requirement set forth in such application, the State educational agency, after giving appropriate notice to the local educational agency or the intermediate educational unit, shall make no further payments to such local educational agency or such intermediate educational unit until the State educational agency is satisfied that there is no longer any failure to comply with the requirement involved. States that whenever a State educational agency determines that a local educational agency is unable or unwilling to establish and maintain programs of free appropriate public education; is unable or unwilling to be consolidated with other local educational agencies in order to establish and maintain such programs; or has one or more handicapped children who can best be served by a regional or State center designed to meet the needs of such children; the State educational agency shall use the payments which would have been available to such local educational agency to provide special education and related services directly to handicapped children residing in the area by such local educational agency. Requires any State educational agency, any local educational agency, and any intermediate educational unit which receives assistance under this part to establish and maintain procedures to assure that handicapped children and their parents or guardians are guaranteed procedural safeguards with respect to the provision of free appropriate public education by such agencies and units, which procedures shall include, but shall not be limited to, an opportunity for the parents or guardian of a handicapped child to examine all relevant records with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child. Provides that whenever a complaint has been received under this Act the parents or guardian shall have an opportunity for an impartial due process hearing, and a right of appeal therefrom to State or Federal court. Provides that whenever the Commissioner, after reasonable notice and opportunity for hearing to the State educational agency involved, finds that there has been a failure to comply substantially with specified provisions of this Act, or that in the administration of the State plan there is a failure to comply or with any requirements set forth in the application of a local educational agency or intermediate educational unit the Commissioner of Education shall, after notifying the State educational agency, withhold any further payments to the State under this Act. Permits an appeal to United States circuit court of appeals from any such action by the Commissioner. Directs the Commissioner to conduct, directly or by grant or contract, such studies, investigations, and evaluations as are necessary to assure effective implementation of this Act, and through the National Center for Education Statistics, to provide to the appropriate committees of each House of the Congress and to the general public at least annually, programmatic information concerning programs and projects assisted under this Act and other Federal programs supporting the education of handicapped children. Requires that, not later than 120 days after the close of each fiscal year, the Commissioner shall transmit to the appropriate committees of each House of the Congress a report on the progress being made toward the provisions of free appropriate public education to all handicapped children, including a detailed description of all evaluation activities conducted. Authorizes grants to States which have met the eligibility requirements of this Act and have an approved State plan, to be used for the provision of special education and related services to the handicapped aged three to five. Sets a maximum for such grants of $300 per child. Sets forth provisions relating to the procedures of payments under this Act to State education agencies, and to local and intermediate educational agencies. Requires any proposed changes in the definition of "children with specific learning disabilities" to be submitted to the Congress. Defines such term presently to mean those children who have a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations. Directs the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to assure that each recipient of assistance under this Act shall make positive efforts to employ and advance in employment qualified handicapped individuals in programs assisted under this Act. Authorizes, upon application by any State or local educational agency or intermediate educational unit, the Commissioner to make grants to pay part or all of the cost of altering existing buildings and equipment to remove architectural barriers. Authorizes the Secretary to enter into agreements with institutions of higher education, State and local educational agencies, or other appropriate nonprofit agencies, for the establishment and operation of centers on educational media and materials for the handicapped.