Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2019


Special education legislation was introduced into America schools in 1975. The goal of the legislation was to ensure students with special needs were receiving and having access to a public education. Over the past nearly 45 years, special education legislation has evolved and also remained the same. The question becomes how has the legislation benefited the overall education for students with special needs? Has special education legislation allowed for students to have access to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE)? Are students, who receive special education services, being provided equity in their education? This paper explores the current research surrounding how students placed in special education may be treated with equity and provided a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. In exploring the literature, topics explored include special education legislation, LRE, inclusive education environment, self-determination, response to intervention (RTI), and data-informed decision making (DIDM). After reviewing the literature, it was determined that students in special education are not receiving FAPE in the LRE or with equity. The question then becomes why does special education legislation mandate FAPE in the LRE for students but this is not being done in reality. Additionally, what can school districts and educators do to promote equity for students with special needs in the general education classroom and ensure a FAPE in the LRE is achieved for each student?