Irac Rowley vs Board of Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

This is because the child was denied this assistance only because it was felt that while the government was responsible for providing appropriate education to handicapped children, it was not legally binding to achieve or maintain 'perfect equality'. This shows a hidden prejudice against such children and it is clear that decision was based on more than mere performance of the child. Everybody knows that children with hearing disability are unable to grasp and comprehend some of the instructions by the teachers and therefore fail to perform up to their full potential.

While many considered the decision controversial, the legal circles and the school administrators nationwide called it a landmark ruling in the field of special education which could help in the formulation of future laws. Since then it has been noticed that this ruling was used in writing and rewriting of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. "The justification given by the court then, and being used now in the re-writing of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is that a high-achieving deaf child or teen does not need additional services. No thought is given to the fact that deafness is a communication disability, and the fact that without an interpreter a deaf student will miss much of what goes on in a hearing classroom." (Growing Up Deaf in the Seventies: (

IDEA is now used as the most important statute in connection with special education because it provides disabled eligible children with many rights including the right to free appropriate public education. (Washington Times, 2001) but the ruling in the Rowley case had a huge impact on every version of IDEA as it is clearly stated that children with hearing disabilities do not require additional assistance.

Another important area where this case had an impact is the cost of running and maintaining special education programs. While the public believed that Rowley child should have been provided further assistance because state's refusal to comply by their request meant a denial of basic rights, still the same public has also repeatedly protested against 'growing cost of educating deaf children' (6). This protest along with the Rowley case has led to the new IDEA where a deaf child can be denied interpreting services.

It is also important to know that Rowley case ruling helped us in better understanding of the meaning of "free appropriate public education." Justice Rehnquist clearly said during his ruling on 28 June 1982, "We think more must be made of it than either respondents or the United States seems willing to admit... Thus, if personalized instruction is being provided with sufficient supportive services to permit the child to benefit from the instruction, and other items on the definitional checklist are satisfied, the child is receiving a 'free appropriate public education' as defined by the Act."


These were some of the areas in which Rowley case had a profound impact. This is why the case occupies a significant position in the area of legal and ethical issues connected with special education law. It is not legally binding on school administrators and States to achieve equality where special children are concerned, which was what the Rowleys were fighting for. If we take into account the ethical aspect of the ruling, we can conclude that special education laws have been negatively affected by the Supreme Court decision because children with hearing disability are not considered eligible for additional assistance as the supplemental services mentioned in special education laws is considered sufficient for obtaining 'free appropriate public education'.


U.S. Supreme Court Reports: Retrieved online 16th September 2006

Educational Benefit: Retrieved online 16th September 2006 costly IDEA in many ways, a costly IDEA in many ways., the Washington Times, 12-17-2001

Kubicek, Frederick C., Special education reform in light of select state and federal court decisions.. Vol. 28, Journal of Special Education, 04-01-1994, pp 27

Ben Lyon, HENDRICK HUDSON DISTRICT BOARD of EDUCATION v. ROWLEY 458 U.S. 176 (1982) Retrieved online 16th September 2006

Growing Up Deaf in the Seventies: Amy and Me Retrieved online 16th September 2006

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