Skip to Main Content

Pennsylvania Special Education Law: State & Federal Laws

Federal Statutes & Regulations

Federal laws regarding special education rights control throughout the United States and its Territories.  Research federal legislation and administrative rules dealing with special education issues with the following selected resources.  Further research may be conducted by consulting a Reference Librarian or by using the many other federal law resources available in print or electronic form:

The Constitution of the United States of America

The United States Code:

20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

29 U.S.C. § 794Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504. 

42 U.S.C. § 12101-12213:  Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

42 U.S.C. § 280i-280i-4:  Autism CARES Act of 2014.

The Code of Federal Regulations:

            Title 34, Education:  Parts 300-396.

Federal Case Law

Federal Case Law:  Federal laws relating to special education may develop and change through the decisions of the federal courts, interpreting the will of Congress and Executive Branch agencies as expressed in relevant statutes and administrative rules.  Depending upon the forum and the claims involved in particular matters, a researcher may need to find federal and state case law relevant to their issues.  Links to suggested online resources are provided below.  Use the Library’s OPAC to find print resource locations and for additional material:

United States Supreme Court opinions availabel at the official website of the Supreme Court of the United States.

United States Reports:  (KF101 .A3)  The official reporter of United States Supreme Court opinions

West’s Supreme Court ReporterUnited States Supreme Court opinions on Westlaw.

United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers Edition:  A commercially-published reporter on Lexis Advance.


The West Digest System:  For print versions of the West Digest system, use the Descriptive Word Index volumes from a Digest for the appropriate jurisdiction to find topics and keynumbers regarding special education issues and the law regarding any additional claims.  In Westlaw, use the “West Key Number System” to browse the West Digest Outline, or to search for topics and key numbers using your own search terms.

Selected Digest Topics related to Special Education:

141E Education:

K210-K229 School Aid and Funding:

K228 Aid for Special Education

K860-K909 Children with Disabilities; Special Education:

K862 Individualized Education Program

K864 "Child Find" Obligation

K868 Eligibility; Nature of Impairment of Condition

K870 Behaviral or Emotional Disorders

K871 Autism

K873 Learning Disabilities

K884 Administrative Proceedings to Enforce Rights

K889 Judicial Review or Intervention

K887 Proceedings Before Hearing Officer

K893 Exhaustion of Remedies

K894 Scope of Review

Westlaw Federal Case Law Databases:

            U.S. Supreme Court

            Third Circuit Federal Cases

            Federal District Court Cases: Pennsylvania

            Pennsylvania State & Federal Cases

            Federal Cases

Lexis Advance Federal Cases:

"All Reported Federal" cases in Lexis Advance; see also the National Disability Law Reporter.

Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LLI): Court Opinions

Websites of Federal court in Pennsylvania:

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Opinions Archive

United States District Court:  Eastern District of Pennsylvania

United States District Court:  Middle District of Pennsylvania

United States District Court:  Western District of Pennsylvania

Search online for additional Court websites covering different jurisdictions.

Pennsylvania Statutes & Regulations

Pennsylvania statutes and administrative rules have numerous provisions dealing with Special Education.  Below are some selected provisions; others can be found through further research using the resources featured in this Guide:

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Purdon's Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated (Reserve, Third Floor: KFP30 1930 .A44).

Pennsylvania Statutes:

Pennsylvania Statutes:  Title 24. Education

Public School Code of 1949 24 P.S. §§ 1-101-27-2702

Early Intervention Services System Act, 11 P.S. §§ 875-101-875-503.

Pennsylvania Regulations (Pennsylvania Code):  The  Pennsylvania Code is Pennsylvania's official publication of rules and regulations governing the operation's of state agencies. 

Title 22:  Education:

Chapter 14. Special Education Services and Programs.

Chapter 59. Special Education Schools.

The Pennsylvania Bulletin is Pennsylvania's official weekly publication noting changes to state court rules, executive orders, and agency regulations and notices.

Pennsylvania Case Law

Many Pennsylvania state court opinions are published in various official and unofficial court reporters.  They are also available online on Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law.  Opinions may also be available on the relevant court’s website:

Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas:  Opinions