The 1970s: FAPE in LRE (The Right to a Free Appropriate Public
Education in the Least Restrictive Environment)
In 1970, only one in five students with disabilities was educated in American schools. By 1975, the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped* was also saying that an estimated one million—children with significant disabilities were still totally excluded from the education system, and at least another 300,000 were not receiving adequate services.
Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, parents testified before state legislatures across the country to secure a free appropriate public education for their children. Changes emerged in some states and in some localities. This created a climate for change and a basis of experience. A number of court challenges extended the Civil Rights decisions since 1954 into the arena of people with disabilities.
In 1969, the judge in Fred G. Wolf et. al. v. The Legislature of the State of Utah ruled that "children with moderate mental retardation*" should be provided with an education through the public school system. "Segregation, even though perhaps well intentioned, under the apparent sanction of law and state authority has a tendency to retard* the educational, emotional, and mental development of the children."