Congress has passed Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act), now codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). This legal act established a broad federal standard embodying the concept that handicapped children have the right to adequate education. This legal act was designed to encourage the states to offer a “free appropriate public education”¯ to all handicapped children by providing the states with federal financial assistance. According to this law, states have to implement and develop policies that assure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, in order to receive federal funds. As it was mentioned, these policies should be adequate and in large part derivative from principles established by federal legal act (Koenig).
Coming back to trial case, Wrexlers claims were based on Ā section 1412(2)(B) of EAHCA, which was indirectly interpreted by complainant, who thought that appropriate legal norm obliged Westerfield district with Douglas education until he reaches the age of 21 years. In fact referred section of Education of All Handicapped Children Act stated “state is required to provide a free appropriate public education for all handicapped children between the ages of three and twenty-one within the state except that, with respect to handicapped children aged eighteen to twenty-one, inclusive, the requirements of this clause shall not be applied in any state if the application of such requirements would be inconsistant with state law or practice, respecting public education within such age groups in the state”. Considering appropriate controversial legal wording, the section 1412 (2) (B) EAHCA does not allow to estimate clearly state’s obligations in part of its lasting period. In other words, we are not encouraged to say that legal act directly establishes state’s absolute obligation of Handicapped Children education providing until she / he reaches the age of 21. The trial judged appropriate issue in next way: “Douglas Wexler was properly graduated, i.e., graduated in accordance to his IEP which was “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits,” Hendrick Hudson District Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 207, 102 S.Ct. 3034, 3051, 73 L.Ed.2d 690 (1982), and that the completion of the program set forth by the IEP is analogous to successful completion of graduation requirements for non-handicapped students, see N.J.Admin.Code 6:28-2.6(a). In view of those facts, it is plain that requiring Westfield to provide post-graduate education for Douglas “would be inconsistant with State … practice … respecting public education within such age [group] in the state.” 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1412(2)(B)”¯. In this regard, the reference of complainant was totally against announced claims, and played against him eventually. In addition, the court referred to Helms v. Independent School Dist. No. 3, 750 F.2d 820 (10th Cir.1984), cert. denied, — U.S. —, 105 S.Ct. 2024, 85 L.Ed.2d 305 (1985) case, mentioning state is only required to provide post-graduate education for handicapped students to the extent and in the same proportion that it does for non-handicapped students. In appropriate case, it was evidenced that the graduation of the handicapped students was fictionally designed to end the school system’s responsibility at the earliest possible moment under circumstances where non-handicapped children were provided further schooling. The court therefore ordered the school board to provide the complainant with two additional years of free appropriate public education (Helms v. Independent School Dist).
Considering circumstances and judgments in analyzed cases, as well as proper interpretations of noted legal norms, it looks pretty clear that Education of All Handicapped Children Act did not obliged states to provide education to special children until they reach the age of 21 years. In some way, analyzed case resolved pretty disputable issue concerning institution of Handicapped Children education, by drawing the clear lines between states’ obligations and requirements. Actually, it is quite hard to say this case worth to be called extremely outstanding in legal practice connected to school law. However, it became pretty significant in the entire history of Westerfield school District legal experience.