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NASP Home NASP Publications School Psychology Review (SPR) Volume 6 Issue 4 (1977) Equal Protection and Due Process Cons...
Volume 6, Issue 4 (1977)

Equal Protection and Due Process Considerations in the New Special Education Legislation

pp. 11—21

Until recently the courts were loath to become involved with the educational process itself. In the past few years, however, parents have been turning to lawyers to assert the rights of their children to equal educational opportunity. As a result of extensive litigation, we now have available a number of legal principles and concepts which have been developed to insure that handicapped children (and non-handicapped children inappropriately or wrongly classified) receive their educational rights. Most of these rights rest on civil rights legislation and on the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. The questions before us are to examine the extent to which the procedures described in the laws and the regulations accompanying the several new state and federal programs (circa 1970-1976) providing for special education of handicapped children will be vulnerable in future litigation. The past history of professional practice in schools does not support the assumption that school personnel are yet sophisticated enough about these legal matters to incorporate in their functioning sufficient safeguards to protect children’s rights. There are few available summaries of the equal protection and due process issues as they apply to education prepared for non-lawyers ; therefore it is difficult, if not impossible, for educators and psychologists to examine their own practices in the light of the educational implications of several landmark court decisions. We hope that school psychologists and special educators will consider the wisdom of writing and implementing comprehensive plans for special education programs that will build a framework buttressed by the necessary safeguards to protect these constitutionally guaranteed rights of children.

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