Book Review - at Best an Inexact Science: Delimiting the Legal Contours of Specific Learning Disability Eligibility Under Idea (Reviewing Perry a. Zirkel, the Legal Meaning of Specific Learning Disability for Special Education Eligibility (Council for Exceptional Children, 2006))
Paul M. Secunda
Marquette University - Law School
Journal of Law & Education, Vol. 36, 2007
Special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been all the rage in education law in recent years. Last Term alone, the United States Supreme Court decided two IDEA cases, one involving burden of proof issues in due process hearings concerning the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the other concerning whether prevailing parents are able to be reimbursed for non-attorney expert fees under the IDEA fee-shifting provision. Additionally, the most comprehensive amendments to IDEA in seven years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA), went into effect on July 1, 2005, making many important changes to existing special education law doctrine. More recently, final regulations to these new IDEIA amendments have been adopted.
At the same time that special education law has generally enjoyed increased prominence, there continue to be special education legal issues that are not receiving the attention that they merit. Case in point: specific learning disability (SLD) eligibility determinations. Consider for a moment that almost 50% of children currently eligible for special education and related services under IDEA qualify for such services under this SLD eligibility category. That means that some 3 million children (representing nearly 6% of the total enrollment in American public schools) have been determined to have specific learning disabilities and are receiving additional educational services to assist them in achieving their full educational potential.
This Book Review examines Perry Zirkel's new book, The Legal Meaning of Specific Learning Disability for Special Education Eligibility, which for the first time provides a thorough-going synthesis of the legal requirements for SLD eligibility by parsing the federal statutory and regulatory language of IDEA with regard to SLD and establishes a decisional framework to analyze previously-decided cases. Although Zirkel should be commended for filling in a conspicuous gap in the law of special education, this Review makes two additional suggestions of further studies that can be undertaken in this area in order to start the process of fashioning prescriptions to improve the SLD eligibility legal framework.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: special education, IDEA, specific learning disabilities, eligibility, response to intervention, severe discrepancyAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 20, 2007 ; Last revised: September 20, 2008
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