In 1975, Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. In accepting State grant funds, a State was required to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities in the State according to specific procedures and civil rights protections. In 1990, the EHA was renamed as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In 1997, the IDEA was reauthorized and amended.
On December 3, 2004, the new Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA) was signed into law and went into effect on July 1, 2005. One of the stated purposes for this law is, "to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. "The new law raises expectations for students with disabilities, sets standards for teaching credentials and research-based methodologies, and streamlines procedures for dispute resolution.
All special education programs must comply with the formal structure and procedures contained in this Act. If you have been invited to attend an Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) meeting, this is a special education committee under the IDEA.