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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
December 1994
This reviews examines the federal legislation established to provide federal financial assistance programs to assist states in educating children with disabilities. Federal law requires the state to assure that school districts evaluate each identified child to determine eligibility for special education, provide appropriate special education services to children with disabilities, establish due process procedures to help parents and students get the appropriate special education services, and perform some administrative functions for special education programs. The main differences between federal and state requirements are that the state defines specific eligibility criteria for each disability category and requires the evaluation to identify a child's disability within one of the disability categories. The state constitution, as interpreted by the Washington State Supreme Court in 1978, requires the state to define and fully fund basic education. Through legislative definition, special education is part of the state's basic education responsibility.
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