The History of Special Education


Brown vs. Board of Education Decision

May 17th, 1954

Supreme Court rules that racial segregation in public schools in unconstitutional, which began to show many people that all have a right to public education, regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, etc.

Bureau of Education for the Handicapped Created


Congress amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, creating a Bureau of Education for the Handicapped, which is today known as the Office of Special Education Programs.

PARC vs. Pennsylvania and Mills vs. D.C. Board of Education


Two major court cases apply the argument of equal protection for those with disabilities and set groundbreaking precedents for special education law.

EAHCA Enacted

November 30th, 1975

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act is enacted in 1975, mandating schools to provide education for handicapped children and disallowing schools from denying a student education solely based on disabilities.

ADA Enacted

July 26th, 1990

Among other things, the Americans with Disabilities Act increases the frequency of Individualized Education Plans in schools.


October 30th, 1990

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act is renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

IDEA Amended


Major changes to IDEA include students with disabilities being included in state and district wide assessments, regular teachers being required to join IEP teams, and the inclusion of developmentally delayed children between the ages of 3 and 9.

No Child Left Behind Act Enacted


No Child Left Behind requires all students to meet minimum proficiency requirements in math and reading.

IDEA Amended


President Bush amends IDEA to align more closely with No Child Left Behind standards, with major changes being additional accountability placed at state and local levels, with more data outcomes required. Additional instruction and intervention programs put in place to try to help keep students out of special education.