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It's the Law:  Mandatory Public Education for Handicapped Children

PATRICIA M. FITZGIBBONS, MA; PEGGY COPPLE FERRY, MD
Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(5):476-478. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130050020002.
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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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