Special education and IEP law were generally developed first at the federal level and then at the state level. If there is ever a conflict between state and federal law, federal law must be followed.
The basis for most IEP law is found in three federal statutes, The Individual with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act. IDEA is a federal law binding in all states. State law can mandate more protection than IDEA but not less. Each state uses different criteria to determine programs and guidelines for qualifying students for special education.
Special education funding continues to be a problem for states as Congress is only providing about 15% of the promised monies needed to support the mandates outlined in IDEA.
In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law. The main focus of this law is on accountability and requires that the academic performance of all school children, including those with disabilities achieve 100% proficiency in reading and math by the year 2012.
IDEA reauthorization changed the learning disability identification process, which now requires higher qualification standards for special education teachers, stipulated that all students with disabilities participate in annual state testing. It also states that students who participate in activities related to weapons, drugs or violence can be placed in an interim alternative educational setting.
In order to assure that these rights are received, IDEA also includes the following protections: