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Your Voice: A Student Publication


Your Voice: A Student Publication


The Fight for Disability Rights and the Impact of IDEA


     Should schools and organizations that receive government funding be forced to comply to the IDEA act and provide one-on-one aid to those with disabilities? Garret F. was a student in the Cedar Rapids school district who required the use of a wheelchair along with a ventilator. He was already provided with an aid to help with basic needs throughout the school day but, when asked to provided an aid to monitor his ventilator, the school district refused to provide funding for one. The court case of Cedar Rapids School District V. Garret F significantly impacted disability rights in the United States by requiring school districts to provide funding for assistance to students who need an aid to effectively attend school. Without the acts and rulings there are today, individuals with disabilities wouldn’t be presented with the same rights and opportunities as someone who wasn’t disabled. Side by side these people would be the same person but the only difference is one is disabled and one is a seemingly “normal” person but, the person without the disability would be able to attend school, get a job, and would get equal opportunities and treatment with no problems.
     Garret F, a student at a school in the Cedar Rapids School District required a wheelchair and the use of a ventilator. He already had assistance for his day to day school needs but needed someone who was qualified to manage his ventilator. The school district refused to provide funding for an aide saying that they were not obligated to provide one-on-one care. Without this aide Garret was not able to attend school in a safe and effective manner. In the case of Cedar Rapids School District V. Garret F, the petitioner used the Fourteenth Amendment to address inequality in schools and helped ensure equal access to education for individuals who have disabilities. “If the services in question are “related” to keeping the child with disabilities in school and able to access educational opportunities available to others IDEA funded school districts must provide such services.” (Oyez, Cedar Rapids) In the quote above, it stated that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), if the services needed were related to helping a child with a disability stay in school and provides them with access to the same educational opportunities as other students, then school districts under the IDEA Act are required to provide those accommodations. Essentially this means that schools must provide resources and accommodations that help students in their day to day routines and ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to education. The use of the 14th Amendment comes in when addressing the inequality that Garret F. faced from his school district. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protections to all U.S. citizens and providing students with equal and necessary services falls under this amendment. Without enforcing it, students with disabilities wouldn’t be receiving equal access to education which would be in violation of the Fourteenth amendment. By requiring public schools to provide essential aid to students with disabilities, the Court continues to provide equal access to education for all individuals no matter what. This case demonstrates the importance of protecting individuals rights to education and helping those individuals do the best they can with the opportunities they are provided with. The decision the supreme court made upholds the 14th Amendment and continues providing those essential rights to all individuals. 

     The IDEA act is an extremely important act within these cases and without it the rights of individuals with disabilities would be nonexistent. “IDEA’s impact has opened the door to opportunities once out of reach for many disabled people. Special needs students who went through school since the implementation of IDEA are twice as likely to have jobs than older adults with similar disabilities who didn’t benefit from the law” (Idea’s Impact). The establishment of the IDEA act had a monumental impact on individuals with disabilities. This act not only provided better education for individuals but, it also helped those individuals in the future by providing better opportunities for them and increasing their chances of gaining employment. The IDEA act was helpful to individuals by emphasizing the benefits of improved education and the potential for better opportunities that are attributed to by the act. Garret won his case because in the IDEA act it stated that the school district must provide “school health services” and his needs did fall under that statement. If this act wasn’t put into place then there would be nothing stopping that school from withdrawing all aid from Garret and taking away his right to an education. This act levels the playing field and advancing the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. It also creates so many opportunities for these individuals and ensures equality for them. Additionally, the prospect for increased employment for these students shows the lasting effects of the law. Overall, this can help many individuals like Garret in the present and future.

     The Fourteenth Amendment includes the Equal Protection Clause, which has helped individuals challenge certain organizations about their practices which later ensured equality to all including individuals with disabilities. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (U.S Const.). As seen in the quote above, the Fourteenth Amendment makes sure that no U.S. citizen is deprived of essentials and are equal protected within the law. This amendment directly relates to cases such as Cedar Rapids School District V. Garret F because in this case Garret is being withheld from a liberty that he is entitled to. This analysis shows the impact and the crucial role of the Fourteenth Amendment in protecting the rights and equal protection of all U.S. citizens. By stating that no state nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws it shows how this amendment is a powerful tool for advocating for justice and fairness. The connection drawn between the Fourteenth Amendment and the Cedar Rapids School District v. Garret F case highlights how Garret’s rights were being denied and that the school district was in the wrong. The school district violated the IDEA act by refusing to provide funding for his needs that fell under the part of the act that says that the school must provide school health services and, they also violated his right to an education. This case along with the amendment were essential to shaping the rights of the disabled. 

     If school districts are not able to meet the needs of students under the IDEA Act then they should be willing to help or reimburse the student in any way that helps them further their education in a better way. Garret’s case isn’t the only case affected by these acts and problems. “School districts must offer children an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that is reasonably calculated to enable each child to make progress appropriate for that child’s circumstances” (Oyez, Douglas County). The importance of school districts providing specialized programs to students with disabilities to ensure that they get the best education that is tailored to their needs. It highlights that each student is different and needs different support in different areas to succeed. This not only guarantees that students are receiving the necessary support to succeed in an educational setting, but also corresponds with the IDEA Act’s condition for schools to provide aid and proper help for students with disabilities.  The case of Cedar Rapids v. Garret F. was used as precedent in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District and further emphasized the rights of individuals. As seen above, schools are legally responsible to provide appropriate assistance and accommodations for students with disabilities, due to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This hopefully ensures that all schools will provide proper programs to help students and if not, will be forced to reimburse the student for whatever other educational route they take. This case also relates to the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing that all students will be given equal opportunities and assistance as needed. 

     The major case of Cedar Rapids School District v. Garret F reshaped disability rights in the United States by mandating that school districts must provide funding for necessary assistance to students requiring aids to advance their education. These topics provide evidence that without these actions equality for all would be an invalid statement and individuals would not have equal opportunities to education. As seen in Cedar Rapids without these amendments and the IDEA act, Garret would not be able to attend school which strips him of his right to equality. This is all important because without these amendments, acts, and cases, the equality of individuals with disabilities would not be what they are today and, would in turn invalidate the equality of these specific U.S citizens.  

Works Cited

“14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868).”,,equal%20protection%20of%20the%20laws. Accessed 8 May 2024.

“Cedar Rapids Community School Dist. v. Garret F.”, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

“Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.”, Accessed 8 May 2024.

Peterson, Margie. “IDEA’s Impact – Theory to Practice.”, Lehigh University College of Education,’s%20impact%20has%20opened,t%20benefit%20from%20the%20law. Accessed 8 May 2024.


Photo by Nguyen Minh on Unsplash

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