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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. IDEA was previously known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) from 1975 to 1990. In 1990, the United States Congress reauthorized EHA and changed the title to IDEA.[1] Overall, the goal of IDEA is to provide children with disabilities the same opportunity for education as those students who do not have a disability.

Quick facts: Long title, Acronyms .mw-parser-output .nobol...
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act
Acronyms (colloquial)IDEA
Enacted bythe 101st United States Congress
Public lawPub.L. 101-476
Statutes at Large104 Stat. 1142
Acts amendedEducation for All Handicapped Children Act
Titles amended20
U.S.C. sections amended1400 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S.1824 by Tom Harkin (DIA) on October 31, 1989
  • Committee consideration by Committee on Labor and Human Resources
  • Passed the Senate on November 16, 1989 (voice vote)
  • Passed the House on June 18, 1990 (without objection)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee on October 1, 1990; agreed to by the Senate on October 2, 1990 (voice vote) and by the House on October 15, 1990 (voice vote)
  • Signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on October 30, 1990
Major amendments
No Child Left Behind Act
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, P.L. 108-446
United States Supreme Court cases

IDEA is composed of four parts, the main two being part A and part B.[2] Part A covers the general provisions of the law; Part B covers assistance for education of all children with disabilities; Part C covers infants and toddlers with disabilities, including children from birth to age three; and Part D consists of the national support programs administered at the federal level. Each part of the law has remained largely the same since the original enactment in 1975.

In practice, IDEA is composed of six main elements that illuminate its main points. These six elements are: Individualized Education Program (IEP); Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE); Least Restrictive Environment (LRE); Appropriate Evaluation; Parent and Teacher Participation; and Procedural Safeguards. To go along with those six main elements, there are also a few other important components that tie into IDEA: Confidentiality of Information, Transition Services, and Discipline. Throughout the years of IDEA's being reauthorized, these components have become key concepts when learning about IDEA.[3]