The Laws

Overview of Key Federal and State Laws for Children and Youth with Disabilities



Agencies Involved

Brief Summary


Americans with Disabilities Act (Federal)

No single agency oversees implementation of ADA. Complaints about violations can be filed with:

  • US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (for employment discrimination)
  • Department of Justice (for activities of state and local government and for complaints about accommodations);
  • Federal Transit Administration (for public transportation);
  • Federal Communications Commission (for telecommunications access)

Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications. It also applies to the US Congress

An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.


Section 504: Rehabilitation Act of 1973-Public Law 930-112(Federal)

Each agency has its own set of Section 504 regulations that applies to its own programs.The Department of Justice can provide information on how to file 504 complaints.

Prohibits discrimination in:

  • Education of handicapped children and young people;
  • Vocational education programs;
  • College programs and other post-secondary education programs;
  • Employment;
  • Health, welfare and other social service programs;
  • Other programs and activities that receive federal funds.

School aged children who have a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity, have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself and performing manual tasks.

AGES 0-21

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act -(recently reauthorized as IDEA 2004 (Federal)

California Department of Education (CDE)
-- San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)

Guarantees these six important rights :

  1. A free and appropriate education for all children with handicaps;
  2. To be educated in the least restrictive environment;
  3. An individualized education program (IEP) prepared by a team which includes the parents;
  4. To be provided necessary related services to benefit from an education;
  5. Assessment procedures to be used to determine student's abilities and educational requirements;
  6. Due process and complaint procedures to ensure student's rights are met.

Eligible disabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Mentally retarded;
  • Hard of hearing;
  • Speech or language impaired;
  • Visually impaired;
  • Seriously emotionally disturbed;
  • Orthopedically impaired;
  • Other health impaired;
  • Deaf;
  • Deaf-blind;
  • Multiple disabled;
  • Specific learning disability;
  • Autistic;
  • Traumatic brain injury

AGES 3-18 INCLUSIVE. Individuals between 19-21 inclusive who are not enrolled in or are eligible for special education prior to their 19th birthday, and who have not completed their prescribed course of study (or who have not met prescribed proficiency standards).

IDEA - Part C:
(recently reauthorized as IDEA 2004)(Federal)

California Department of Education (CDE)
-- San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)

California Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
-- Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC)

All rights and protections afforded children under IDEA. Part C governs early intervention program for infants and toddlers, ages birth through two years.

Children with disabilities ages birth through two years who need early intervention services because they are experiencing developmental delays in the areas of cognitive development, physical development, language and speech development, social or emotional development or self-help skills. In addition, children who have a diagnosed mental or physical condition that typically results in a delay or who are at risk of substantial delay.

Ages 0-36 months

Early Start:
California Early Intervention Services Act
Senate Bill 1085(State)

California Department of Education (CDE)
-- San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)

California Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
-- Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC)

Established by state law in compliance with Part C of IDEA

Infants and toddlers ages birth through 3 who:

  • Have a significant delay in at least one area of development;
  • Have a condition with a known probability of causing a disability or delay;

Are at high risk of having a developmental disability.

AGES 0-36 months

Lanterman Act:
Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (State)

California Department of Developmental Services (DDS)
-- Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC)

Establishes the rights of persons with developmental disabilities to services and supports they need and choose. The intent of this Act is to provide services and supports to help persons with developmental disabilities lead independent, productive and normal lives in the community.

Individuals with:

  • Developmental disabilities;
  • Who are at high risk of giving birth to a child with a developmental disability;
  • Infants who have a high risk of becoming developmentally disabled.
  • Developmental disabilities include:
  • Mental retardation;
  • Cerebral palsy;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Autism; and
  • Other disabling conditions which either are related to mental retardation or that require treatment similar to that required for mentally retarded individuals.

Conditions must also

  • begin before the person is 18 years old;
  • continue or be likely to continue indefinitely; and
  • constitute a substantial disability for the individual.


AB3632: Interagency Responsibility for Related Services California Assembly Bill 3632 (State)

California Department of Education (CDE)
-- San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD)

Requires that local education agencies (LEA) arrange with other specified agencies to provide related services (needed for students to benefit from special education) using an interagency agreement.

Agencies and their services:
Department of Health Services :
Education services to students residing in state hospitals/developmental centers
California Children's Services:
Occupational therapy (OT) assessment and services; physical therapy (PT) assessment and services
California Medical Assistance Program:
Life supporting medical services/nursing services during and to/from school
Department of Mental Health:
Mental health assessments, services/ psychotherapy; residential placement for students with serious emotional disturbance
Department of Rehabilitation:
Assessment for secondary students to determine eligibility for vocational transitional services; vocational transitional services
Department of Developmental Services:
Education services to students residing in state hospitals.

Children eligible for special education services.

AGES 3-21