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May 1979

It's the LawMandatory Public Education for Handicapped Children

Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics Vanderbilt University Medical Center South 2100 Pierce Ave Nashville, TN 37232; Department of Pediatrics University of Arizona Health Sciences Center 1501 N Campbell Ave Tucson, AZ 85724

Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(5):476-478. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130050020002

On Nov 29, 1975, Public Law 94-142 was passed by the 94th Congress; it became effective on Oct 1, 1977.1 Under this law, all handicapped children within specified age ranges are guaranteed a free, appropriate public education. Educational agencies are required to identify and evaluate handicapped children and to assure the provision, at no cost to the parents, of special education services. To finance this effort, Congress has authorized $387 million in 1978 and up to $3.16 billion in 1982.2 To examine the implications of this law for pediatricians, we will review the historical events that led to its passage and outline its major components.

HISTORICAL LANDMARKS IN SPECIAL EDUCATION  The first large institutions for "idiotic children" in the mid-19th century were school-like facilities designed to increase self-sufficiency.3 When compulsory education was mandated, "special" education facilities were provided to separate delayed from normal children.The legislative emphasis

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