Adequate Access or Equal Treatment: Looking Beyond the Idea to Section 504 in a Post-Schaffer Public School
61 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006
In light of the Supreme Court's decision this Term in Schaffer v. Weast, this Note analyzes the current state of special education law and argues that parents, attorneys, and advocates should look beyond the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to Section 504 in the post-Schaffer public school. This Note shows how these two standards operate in the context of state special schools for the blind and deaf. A state-by-state survey of thirty states' special school admission policies and practices reveals the IDEA's limitations and Section 504's potentially complementary role.
Although other works have briefly compared the IDEA and Section 504, this Note is the first post-Schaffer comparison and also the first to use a specific policy context to demonstrate how the two statutes interact and complement each other; it is also the first published study on the exclusion of multi-disabled students from state special schools. As the state special school context illustrates, Section 504 is a powerful, yet oft-neglected, complement to the IDEA. Whereas the IDEA focuses on adequate access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), Section 504 emphasizes equal treatment within federally funded programs. This Note advocates that policymakers and special education attorneys understand how to utilize both Section 504 and the IDEA in order to make sure that no child is left behind or otherwise excluded from educational opportunities solely on the basis of a disability. This understanding is particularly important in the post-Schaffer public school.
Keywords: education, special education, section 504, IDEA, blind, deaf
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