Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)



Committee Chair(s)

Gail Johnson


Gail Johnson


Donald Kline


Joan Thorkildsen


In the United States responsibility for education is a function of the state, local school districts derive their authority from the state legislature (Graham, 1962). For many years, especially during the 19th century, the only legislative provision for the education of handicapped children was the limited support of state institutions and residential schools. Recent federal court decisions have substantiated the right of handicapped children to equal protection under the law, including an education, and made state departments of education "solely responsible for providing handicapped children with a free and public education appropriate to their individual capacities." (Abeson, 1972, p. 11) As a result of these federal court decisions all states now have at least some legislative guidelines that define the educational responsibility of local school districts for exceptional children. In addition, most states have specialists or consultants in their state departments of education who give leadership in the education of exceptional children. Also, the majority of states appropriate funds to assist local districts in meeting the increased costs of programs for the handicapped.

Much of the increased federal legislation, including financial aid to the states for educating the handicapped, can be attributed to increasing demands by parents for a "right to education" for their handicapped children.