Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application

First Edition

Jacqueline A. Rodriguez, Wendy Murawski

Details: 567 pages, 2-Color, Softcover, 7" x 10"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-231-2

© 2022 | Available

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Understanding the relationship between law, advocacy, and Special Education is crucial for those who educate and advocate on behalf of students with disabilities. Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application provides a framework for understanding and implementing the law as it applies to students with disabilities and their families. Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Murawski crafted a textbook that distills complex legal concepts into a digestible format to ensure readers understand their roles as teachers, counselors, administrators, and advocates. Their clear and accessible style of writing is intended for students and practitioners and offers case law and real-world examples to highlight the effective application of both law and policy. With contributions from experienced educators and legal professionals, readers will gather the foundational knowledge they need to support students, families, and schools. This is the text that every administrator, teacher, and advocate will want at their fingertips! 

Key Features

  • Authentic case studies of challenging issues resolved from different perspectives  
  • Chapter objectives and summaries to improve retention
  • Boxes throughout the text with key terms, concepts, and checks for understanding
  • Putting it in Practice and Application in Action boxes with real-world examples from case law
  • For Further Consideration sections at the end of each chapter with discussion questions, case law, and additional resources
  • A PluralPlus companion website with PowerPoints lecture slides, a test bank, and sample syllabus for instructors

Instructor test bank available on the Respondus Test Bank Network


Jacqueline Rodriguez & Wendy W. Murawski Discuss Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application


"Jacqueline A. Rodriguez and Wendy Murawski have brought together an impressive array of legal and special education experts as contributors to their book, Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application. They provide a comprehensive view of U. S. special education law and policy by beginning with a discussion of basic legal concepts and ending with specific and current legal issues in special education. Unlike most other special education law texts, this book makes little assumptions about the readers’ prior knowledge of legal terminology and processes. The structure and features throughout the book, such as the chapter objectives, questions to ponder, case studies, and application in action, and so forth make it an ideal textbook. I highly recommend this book."
—Mary Anne Prater, PhD, Professor & Dean, David O. McKay School of Education, Brigham Young University

"This comprehensive text integrates foundational knowledge for any educator who serves P-12 students. I appreciate the editors’ and authors’ attending to the history of special education and illuminating how litigation shapes service provision. With this knowledge, educators can implement with nuanced understanding of interrelated laws–some on behalf of multiply-marginalized groups–and proceed with a focus on advocacy and not just compliance.
As a special education teacher educator, I appreciate the structure of the chapters, with each including content, probing questions, examples, and resources. These features provide scaffolded learning opportunities for readers to access content and easily relate to their role in educating students. Additionally, each chapter offers depth and seamlessly connects with the other chapters in the book.
Finally, Drs. Rodriguez and Murawski engaged experts that are both recognized and rising in our field. This was a forward-thinking approach that will encourage a legacy of continued advocacy and advancement on behalf of students with disabilities."
—Erica D. McCray, PhD, Director & Associate Professor in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida 

"Special Education Law and Policy is a thorough and accessible explanation of one of the most challenging areas in education practice today - unlocking the potential of students with disabilities. This extraordinary book demystifies a system which too often scares and overwhelms educators and parents. Each chapter not only discusses statutes and regulations but also provides several real-life examples which create context for how the law works and help readers think about how the law would apply to the situations they face every day. 
Most importantly, this book firmly grounds today's practice in the history of disability and education advocacy - a history rich with amazing bravery and actions of educators, parents and individuals themselves on behalf of all students with disabilities. Only when we have a shared and solid understanding of the rights and responsibilities that our children, families and educators have under the law, can we truly push our systems to innovate and activate the spirit of the law. Special Education Law and Policy is a must read for any educator who believes we can improve our systems to ensure they unlock the strengths and potential of all of our students with disabilities, increase their achievement, and help them thrive." 
—Lindsay E. Jones, President of the National Center for Learning Disabilities 

"The authors have assembled a diverse group of experienced contributors who provide a comprehensive and authoritative text written in such a manner which is accessible to a wide audience including family members, educators, advocates, and attorneys.  Each chapter begins with a clear set of objectives and contains deep content knowledge, supporting litigation and case law, and practical examples. I especially appreciated the chapter additions such as, 'Checks for understanding,' 'Putting it in practice,' and 'Questions to ponder;' again thinking about how I might use this resource in a credential or graduate program. The field of special education is so complex with deep historical roots, critical legislative mandates, and complex laws, and regulations. But at the heart of special education is ensuring that students with disabilities are provided an appropriate education alongside their nondisabled peers. The authors and their contributors have provided an invaluable resource to educators and others to help achieve this goal."
—Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Assistant Vice Chancellor, Educator Preparation and Public School Programs, California State University, Office of the Chancellor

"This book is unique in regard to the range of topics that are addressed. Chapters provide thorough reviews of special education law from a very broad perspective, addressing how the legal system works and the history of special education law. The focus then narrows to address how this legal context has resulted in influential federal laws including IDEA, Section 504, ADA, and ESSA. Chapters then get into practical issues at a local level related to the application of these laws in schools and classrooms by addressing topics such as developing IEPs, addressing LRE placements and discipline issues, and ensuring procedural safeguards are in place. This broad range of content makes this book an excellent reference to have available when addressing the important implications of special education law. [...]
It is clear that chapter authors have a deep knowledge of both the technical aspects of special education law, as well as how this information is applied in schools and other settings. This makes chapters come alive with practical examples that illustrate technical aspects of special education law. The chapters in this book are written in a way that makes information regarding the technical aspects of special education law accessible to a broad audience, while also providing practical examples of the application of this information."
—James McLeskey, University of Florida

"Exceptionally well-written, organized and presented, Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application is an ideal textbook that is especially and unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of parents, special education advocates, social workers, school counselors and administrators, as well as school district, college and university library Special Education Administration collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists."
Library Bookwatch (June 2021)

Foreword by Jane E. West, PhD





Chapter 1. How the U.S. Legal System Operates
Amy W. Casey and Wendy W. Murawski

Chapter Objectives 

An Introduction to the Law 

Defining Key Roles 


Educational Advocates 

Guardian Ad Litem 

Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers 

School Personnel 

Defining Legal Terminology 

Common Legal Terms and Concepts 

Common Special Education Terms and Concepts 

Sources of Law

Constitutional Law

Statutory Law

Case Law

Regulatory Bodies

U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)

Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Areas of Law

Criminal Law

Civil Law

Navigating the Judicial System

Determining One’s Standing

Interpreting the Law

When Federal and State Laws Conflict

When Judges Disagree

When Appeals Are Necessary

When the “Spirit of the Law” Is Argued

When Due Process Is Invoked

When Holdings or Rulings Are Made

Chapter 1 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 2. Historical Foundations of Special Education Law: A Civil Rights Movement
Edwin Martin and Jacqueline A. Rodriguez

Chapter Objectives


Early Treatment of People with Disabilities

Institutions for the Mentally Ill

The Undesirables Act

Eugenics and Sterilization Movements

Early Schools for the Deaf and Blind

Historical Context for the Federal Role in the Education

Elizabeth Farrell and the Henry Street School

Compulsory Education

Segregated Education: Separate but Equal

Opening the Door to a Federal Investment in Public Education

Barriers to Federal Educational Aid for Elementary and Secondary Schools

A Basis for Federal Aid to Students with Disabilities

Galvanizing the Special Education Movement as a Civil Rights Movement

The Rolling Quads

The Carey Hearings

Joint Commission on Mental Health of Children

Court Decisions Establishing Equal Treatment for Students with Disabilities

The Legislative Path Toward Educating Students with Disabilities

The Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Call to Educate Every Student with a Disability by 1980

The Movement Toward a National Goal Within the Legislative Branch

Regulating P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975

Challenges to Enforcing P.L. 94-142

Chapter 2 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 3. Tenets of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Christine A. Hayashi

Chapter Objectives


Foundations of the Guiding Principles of the IDEA

Early Caselaw and Legislation

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, P.L. 94-142

Early Intervention

The IDEA and the ADA

Guiding Principles of the Statute Today: IDEA 2004

Definition of Terms

Basic Tenets of the IDEA

Chapter 3 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 4. Tenets of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
David F. Bateman, Anne Papalia, and Jacquelyn Chovanes

Chapter Objectives


Foundations of Section 504

Purpose and Development of Section 504

Who Is Protected Under Section 504? Definition of a Person with a Disability

Major Principles of Section 504

Section 504 in Educational Institutions

How Section 504 Compares to IDEA in Schools

School District Responsibilities Under Section 504

Examples of Section 504 Violations in Schools

Grievance Procedures Regarding Identification, Evaluation, or Educational Placement

Discrimination Complaints

Section 504 Enforcement

Section 504 Hearings

Office for Civil Rights’ Responsibilities

Section 504 Sanctions

Chapter 4 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 5. Tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Paula E. Chan

Chapter Objectives


The Americans with Disabilities Act

Title I: Employment

Title II and III: Access for Public Entities and Private Schools

The ADA Amendment Act

Regulatory Bodies

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Department of Justice

Interpreting the Law

Olmstead v. L.C. (1999)

Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools (2017)

Potential Implications for PK–12 Schools

Transition Planning

Navigating the Judicial System

Filing a Complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission

Filing a Complaint with the Office for Civil Rights

Chapter 5 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 6. Every Student Succeeds Act as It Applies to Special Education
Sarah A. Nagro, Andrew M. Markelz, and Richelle E. Davis

Chapter Objectives


Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA)

ESEA in Context

Major Provisions of ESEA

Impact of ESEA on Students with Disabilities

ESEA Summary

Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (IASA)

IASA in Context

Major Provisions of IASA

Impact of IASA on Students with Disabilities

IASA Summary

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)

NCLB in Context

Major Provisions of NCLB

Impact of NCLB on Students with Disabilities

Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA)

ESSA in Context

Major Provisions of the ESSA

Impact of ESSA on Students with Disabilities

ESSA Summary

Chapter 6 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review



Chapter 7. Who Are Students with Disabilities? Identification, Nondiscriminatory Evaluation, and Eligibility
Sarah Hurwitz, Nicole Rodriguez, and Abigail Dixon

Chapter Objectives

Who Are Students with Disabilities?

Child Find

The Identification and Evaluation Process

Request for Initial Evaluation

Obtain Parental Consent

Conduct the Evaluation

Comprehensive Written Evaluation

Determine Eligibility

Write the IEP

Obtain Parental Consent for Special Education


Response to Intervention

Tier 1: High-Quality Classroom Instruction, Screening, and Group Interventions

Tier 2: Targeted Interventions

Tier 3: Intensive Interventions

Nondiscriminatory Evaluation

Test Bias

Clinical Application

Disproportionality: Over- and Underrepresentation in Special Education

Causes of Disproportionality

Federal Guidance on Disproportionality

When School Districts Are Out of Compliance

Culturally Responsive IEPs

Interpreting the Law

Hobson v. Hansen (1967)

Diana v. State Board of Education

Larry P. v. Riles (1972)

Parents in Action on Special Education (PASE) v. Hannon (1980) and Crawford v. Honig (1994)

Chapter 7 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Eligibility Case Study



Chapter 8. Developing an Individualized Education Program
Brenda L. Barrio, Brittany L. Hott, and Kathleen M. Randolph

Chapter Objectives


Individualized Education Program

IEP Team Members

Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance

Goals and Objectives

Accommodations and Modifications

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI)

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Extended School Year Services


IEP Consent and Parent Involvement

Individualized Family Service Plan


IFSP Present Levels of Development

Family Statement

IFSP Goals, Objectives, and Benchmarks


Early Intervention Services


Differences Between IFSP and IEPs

Culturally Responsive Practices That Guide the IEP and IFSP

Culturally Responsive Framework

Strength-Based Perspective

Diverse Student and Family Partnerships


Chapter 8 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

IEP Case Study



Chapter 9. Who’s at the Table? Role, Responsibilities, Expertise, and Authority
Patricia Ann Popp, Sabrina J. Gross, and Laura Hackett

Chapter Objectives


Parents and Guardians

What Is a Parent or Guardian?

Parental Rights Under IDEA

Parental Notice Requirements

The Role of Parents in the Special Education Process

Determining Residency

Training for Parents

Families with Unique Needs

Non-English-Speaking Families

Families Experiencing Homelessness

Families with Students in Foster Care

Military-Connected Families

Special Challenges for Students with Disabilities Who Are Highly Mobile

LGBTQ+ Families

Concluding Thoughts

Including Students in the Special Education Process

The Power of Self-Efficacy

The Importance of Student Voice


Related Service Providers


Special Education Evaluation

IEP Development and Implementation

Attorneys and Advocates

Chapter 9 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Who’s at the Table Case Study



Chapter 10. Redefining a Free Appropriate Public Education
Mitchell L. Yell and Antonis Katsiyannis

Chapter Objectives


The Provision of FAPE in Federal Law

Regulations Guiding FAPE

Supreme Court Cases Interpreting FAPE

Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley (1982)

A Split in the Circuit Courts Over FAPE

Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (2017)

Providing a Free Appropriate Public Education for Students in Special Education

Procedural Requirements

Substantive Requirements

Implementation Requirements

Chapter 10 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

FAPE Case Study



Chapter 11. Identifying the Least Restrictive Environment
Cassandra B. Willis, Lauren P. Bruno, LaRon A. Scott, and David F. Bateman

Chapter Objectives


The Least Restrictive Environment

Components of the Least Restrictive Environment

Continuum of Alternative Placements

The Least Restrictive Environment in Practice

Legal Guidance on Making Educational Placement Decisions

IDEA Requirements

Case Law

Roncker v. Walter (1983)

Daniel R.R. v. State Board of Education (1989)

Sacramento City School District v. Rachel H. (1994)

Additional Case Law

Chapter 11 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

LRE Case Study



Chapter 12. IDEA Discipline Mandates and Outcomes
Ashley L. White, David Hoppey, and David H. Allsopp

Chapter Objectives


Addressing Discipline for Students with Disabilities Within IDEA

Functional Behavior Assessment

Behavior Intervention Plans 


The Protections Provided by a Manifestation Determination Review

Providing Immediate Corrective Action for Students with Disabilities

Restraint and Seclusion

Disparate Discipline Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

Disparate Academic Outcomes Based on Disciplinary Action

Chapter 12 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Discipline Case Study



Chapter 13. Addressing Discipline Policies and Practices for Students with Disabilities
Ashley L. White, David Hoppey, and David H. Allsopp

Chapter Objectives


Zero-Tolerance and Students with Disabilities

Zero-Tolerance: Impetus and Use

Impact on Students with Disabilities

Suspensions and Expulsions Feed the Preschool to Prison Pipeline

Promising Practices for Changing Discipline Disparities for Students with Disabilities

High-Leverage Practices (HLPs) in Special Education

Culturally Responsive Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports

Restorative Justice

Equity Audits

Trauma-Informed Educational Practices

Chapter 13 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Discipline Case Study



Chapter 14. Postsecondary Outcomes: Transitioning the Student with Disabilities
Heartley B. Huber, Carly B. Gilson, and Heather M. Dulas

Chapter Objectives


Unpacking IDEA Requirements for Transition

Yankton v. Schramm: A Case to Clarify Eligibility for Transition Services

Best Practice for Effective Transition Planning and Assessment

Person-Centered Planning: A Framework to Guide Transition Planning

Guidance for Effective and Comprehensive Transition Assessment

Transition Planning and Evaluation

Instructional Focus for Transition

Policy to Support Postsecondary Education and Employment

Improving Access to Postsecondary Career Training and Employment

Individuals with Disabilities Accessing Higher Education

Chapter 14 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Transition Case Study



Chapter 15. Procedural Safeguards and Remedies for Students with Disabilities and Their Families
Margaret A. Dalton

Chapter Objectives


Parent and Student Procedural Rights

Procedural Safeguards Notice to Parents

Right to Examine Records

Right to Participate in Meetings

Importance of Collaborative IEP Meeting Participation

Obtaining an IEE

Written Prior Notice

Impartial Due Process Hearing

The Due Process Hearing Complaint

The Hearing Process


Resolution Session

Remedies Available Under IDEA

Remedies for Parents

Remedies for School Districts

Changes in Hearing Procedures

Statute of Limitations

Civil Actions

Chapter 15 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Procedural Safeguards Case Study



Chapter 16. Current Trends and Legal Issues in Special Education
Jacqueline A. Rodriguez and Wendy M. Murawski

Chapter Objectives


Universal Design for Learning Framework

Multitiered Systems of Support (MTSS)

Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum and Supports

Bullying and Harassment

Charter Schools

Charter School Faculty

Responsibility of Charter Schools Serving Students with IEPs

Charter School Students with IEPs

Monitoring Charter Schools Services for Students with Disabilities

Student Privacy and FERPA

Parental Consent to Disclosure

The Intersection of FERPA and IDEA

Displaced Students with Disabilities Due to a National Health Crisis

Congressional Intervention: CARES Act

Guidance for Schools Supporting Students with Disabilities During COVID-19

Online Learning for Students with Disabilities

Immigrants, Refugees, and Migrant Students with Educational Needs

Chapter 16 Summary

For Further Consideration

Questions to Ponder

Cases to Consider

Resources to Review

Trends Case Study



Glossary of Acronyms and Terms


Jacqueline A. Rodriguez

Jacqueline A. Rodriguez, PhD, is a Vice President at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). Dr. Rodriguez served as a special educator in Washington, D.C. and faculty at the College of William & Mary. Dr. Rodriguez’s research focuses on equity and access to high-quality education, Special Education law, and bridging policy to practice.

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Wendy Murawski

Wendy W. Murawski, PhD, is the Executive Director and Eisner Endowed Chair of the Center for Teaching and Learning at California State University, Northridge and a Professor of Special Education. Past president of the Teacher Education Division of CEC and author of 14 books on education, Dr. Murawski is also CEO of 2Teach, an inclusive education consulting company.

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Special Education Law and Policy: From Foundation to Application comes with access to supplementary instructor materials on a PluralPlus companion website.

To access the instructor materials, you must contact Plural Publishing, Inc. to be verified as an instructor and receive your access code.

            Email: instructormaterials@pluralpublishing.com

            Tel: 866-758-7251 (toll free) or 858-492-1555

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