The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act: Why Considering Individuals One at a Time Creates Untenable Situations for Students and Educators


America’s public schools and teachers face a growing but currently unaddressed problem: How to comply with the law requiring teachers to meet the needs of all students with disabilities when those needs are incompatible. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires schools to meet the individual needs of each student with disabilities. As the number of students with disabilities grows, the number of children with disabilities per classroom is increasing. When the varied classroom needs of these students clash, schools are forced to choose which students’ needs to meet—a violation of the law. The added pressure on schools to maximize student potential under the No Child Left Behind Act limits the flexibility of schools to meet the varied needs of all students. Though circuits are split about whether to consider the effect a child with disabilities will have on a generic classroom when determining the appropriateness of a child’s placement, all circuits myopically consider the needs of only one student with disabilities at a time. Nonetheless, courts and lawmakers continue to view and address the needs of each child with disabilities outside the context of the actual classroom. By considering each individual without considering the actual school context that the decision affects, the law and courts are setting schools up to fail their students and to violate the law.

About the Author

Executive Editor, UCLA Law Review, Volume 55. J.D. Candidate, UCLA School of Law, 2008; M.A., Stanford University, 2001; B.A., Stanford University, 2000.

By uclalaw