The IDEA and court cases supported a change in direction that did not appear to be unfolding. For instance, in 1983, Roncker v. Walter challenged the assignment of students to disability specific programs and schools. The ruling favored inclusion and found that placement decisions must be determined on an individual basis.

It is not enough for a district to simply claim that a segregated program is superior. In a case where the segregated facility is considered superior, the court should determine whether the services which make the placement superior could be feasibly provided in a non-segregated setting (i.e., regular class). If they can, the placement in the segregated school would be inappropriate under the act (IDEA). (Roncker v. Walter, 1983, at 1063)

Nevertheless, there were many indications that practices continued to violate the purpose of the IDEA and court decisions.

Child sitting in a chair
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.