Congress passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 197 in response to the need for increased funding brought about by the widespread recognition by courts and state legislatures of the right of handicapped children to an adequate education. Although the Act sets forth general requirements states must meet in order to qualify for receipt of federal funds, it does not prescribe the specific educational programs local schools must make available in order to fulfill those requirements. Instead, the heart of the federal control mechanism is a system of procedural .safeguards which provides for parental involvement in educational placement decisions. In effect, the Act guarantees procedures whereby parents may challenge the appropriateness of their child's educational program, but provides only the most general guidelines for resolving the substantive questions such challenges may present. Since the major substantive provisions of the Act have only recently gone into effect, judicial interpretation has yet to clarify those guidelines. The basic purpose of this Note is to suggest some pathways through the substantially unexplored terrain of the Act and to indicate where the chief obstacles are likely to lie. Part I first discusses the forces which led to congressional action. It then sets forth the Act's major substantive requirements and outlines the procedural system through which complaints will proceed. Part II evaluates the Act's procedural system and suggests measures for improving its effectiveness as a means of enforcing the right to an appropriate education. Finally, Part III discusses several substantive areas in which complaints seem Hkely to arise. This Part attempts to illuminate major areas of potential conflict and to suggest factors decisionmakers should consider in resolving disagreements between parents and schools.
John G. Douglass, Note, Enforcing the Right to an "Appropriate" Education: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 92 Harv. L. Rev. 1103 (1979).