Celebrating 45 Years of Special Education

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Celebrating 45 Years of Special Education

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) are pleased to join together for a second convening to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Monday, March 22 | 3–4:30 p.m.
Register online for the virtual celebration

This celebration will feature two guest speakers, including: Bill Dussault, iconic community activist, and Chris Reykdal, State Superintendent of OSPI. There will also be guest appearances from several state leaders to reflect on professional and personal successes, challenges, and strategies that support children and their families.

IDEA is the nation’s federal special education law that ensures public schools and state agencies provide all children with disabilities with the services they need to thrive in school and beyond.

Enacted on Nov. 29, 1975, this hallmark legislation significantly changed the educational trajectory for all children with disabilities. IDEA ensures that all children — regardless of ability — have equitable opportunities to grow, play, and learn in inclusive settings.

OSPI and DCYF recognize the value of early supports for Washington students with special needs and children experiencing developmental delays. OSPI serves as the state education agency for IDEA Part B (students ages 3–21) and DCYF serves as the state lead agency for IDEA Part C (children birth to 3 years old).

OSPI’s Special Education Services division works with school districts, families, and other stakeholders to ensure all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education.

DCYF’s Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program supports families with information and skills to ensure they are supported as the most critical influence on their child’s early learning and development.

“I am proud of the work our educators do every day to support our students with disabilities and their families as they grow, learn, and recognize their goals,” said Reykdal. “The special education services provided in our schools support students in achieving post-school success, including further training and education, as well as competitive employment.” 

The four primary purposes of IDEA are to:

  • Ensure all children with disabilities have a free, appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs.
  • Ensure the rights of children with disabilities and their guardians are protected.
  • Assist states and localities to provide for the education of all children with disabilities.
  • Assess and ensure the effectiveness of efforts to educate all children with disabilities.

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