Resource: A Place to Learn: The Development of a Free Appropriate Public Education for All Children -- PARC v. Commonwealth

By: Parallels in Time

Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

The biggest breakthrough came in 1971. Attorney Thomas K. Gilhool represented the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC v. Commonwealth) in a case that resulted in a landmark decision. The court affirmed the right to education at public expense and due process for children with disabilities. Gilhool used Brown v. Board of Education in his arguments. Twenty-seven federal court cases followed and led to the birth of P. L. 94-142, the law that mandated that right.

PARC v Commonwealth was restricted to all "children with mental retardation." In the same year, Mills v Board of Education of District of Columbia affirmed the Pennsylvania decision and expanded its application to all children with disabilities.