Key Issues for Teachers Regarding Legislation, Litigation, and Advocacy

Key Issues for Teachers Regarding Legislation, Litigation, and Advocacy

Theresa Ann Garfield, Albrey Hogan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-9047-8.ch012
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Understanding the laws governing education and key education-related litigation is essential for teachers to interpret and apply. Once teachers have this legal framework of knowledge, they can effectively advocate for their students, schools, and themselves. This chapter will supply a historical overview of the laws relevant to education, key court cases, and the steps needed to become advocates while applying this knowledge. In addition, case studies embedded within the chapter will provide a snapshot of how the law and the outcome of critical litigation play out in real classroom scenarios.
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Chapter Objectives

  • 1.

    Understand the key legislation and litigation that have impacted education and practices.

  • 2.

    Apply knowledge of key legal terminology and laws by reflecting on case studies.

  • 3.

    Develop a personal or professional advocacy plan by applying the advocacy framework.



Educators in both general and special education settings teach a widely-diverse population of students with varying strengths and abilities; these students all have equal protections under the law per mandates that have been put into place because of litigation. Therefore, the constructs of this chapter center upon legislation and litigation pertaining to educational environments. This chapter examines specific examples of federal education laws, supplies guidelines into the interpretation and application of laws, and provides a framework from which educators can develop an advocacy plan that incorporates their understandings of educational legislation. Educators must be well informed on how federal and state guidelines intersect and impact school and student programming and services.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Free Appropriate Public Education: A right afforded to students with disabilities under Section 504 and IDEA that states educational opportunities must be at no cost to the family and the curriculum and interventions followed must make sense for that individual student.

Legislation: The term that applies to the actual law itself.

Litigation: A legal action that attempts to clarify or challenge the legislation.

Advocacy: A term used to describe the act of supporting an individual or cause through systematic approaches and goals.

Individual Education Plan: The document that delineates a student’s participation in special education, and describes interventions, curriculum, placement, and settings where services will occur.

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