This paper has five parts. Part I examines Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), explains the definition of a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”), and explores IDEA’s protections for special-education students facing school discipline. Part II discusses the Supreme Court’s interpretation of IDEA and FAPE, as well as how lower courts have interpreted IDEA. Part III focuses on how schools implement IDEA and treat special-education students. Part IV explores the disproportionate effects of school suspension on disabled students and explains the negative impacts, such as the Pipeline. Part V argues that Congress and the Supreme Court must reevaluate what constitutes FAPE. Additional comprehensive research is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of IAES placements. The pervasive use of suspensions to deal with minor disruptions is counterproductive. A strong education is the best way for disabled students to stay out of the Pipeline. Ineffective IAES placements compromise the goal of a full, fair and appropriate public education.
Recommended CitationSarah Lusk, The Dimming Light of the IDEA: The Need to Reevaluate the Definition of a Free Appropriate Public Education, 36 Pace L. Rev. 291 (2015)
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