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School Business Affairs


As part of providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school boards to offer assistive technology when necessary to ensure that students receive the educational benefits to which they are entitled.

As important as related services such as assistive technology (AT) are, the Supreme Court noted that school boards must provide such help only to the extent that it is necessary for students with disabilities to benefit from the programming identified in their individualized education plans (Irving Independent School District v. Tatro 1984). Although the related services mandate has been part of the IDEA since its adoption in 1975, the specific language requiring boards to provide AT—which was first added as part of its 1990 reauthorization—has been subjected to little litigation.

Aware of the key role that AT devices can play in the delivery of special education, as well as their potentially significant cost, this column focuses on legal issues surrounding AT use for students with disabilities. By highlighting the limited, but important, litigation in this area, this column is designed to keep school business officials (SBOs), their boards, and other education leaders abreast of the latest developments so they can better marshal their resources as they develop appropriate policies.

After reviewing the key AT provisions in the IDEA and its regulations, the column suggests six guiding principles to assist SBOs and others in developing legally sound policies for delivering AT to qualified students with disabilities.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher.

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 School Business Affairs magazine and is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). The text herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of ASBO International, and use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates. Any additional re-purposing or reprint of this article in this or any other medium is restricted without prior written consent.

Permission documentation is on file.


Association of School Business Officials





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Reston, VA



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