What is Massachusetts Chapter 766?

Passed in 1972, the first non-categorical law guaranteeing all children the right to a free appropriate public education was codified at M.G.L  c. 766. Chapter 766, as it became known, later served as the model for the first federal special education legislation.

Somewhat confusingly, when the Massachusetts General Laws were re-codified, the contents of the old Chapter 766 were transferred to a new statutory home. The Massachusetts Special Education Law can now be found at M.G.L. c. 71(b). The regulations implementing those sections are found at 603 C.M.R. 28.00. Though the codification changed, the original name stuck and thus the portions of Massachusetts law governing the provision of special education services to children who need them are still referred to as Chapter 766 to this very day.

As Chapter 766 makes clear, in selecting a lawyer to represent you and your child it is important to remember that a state may have expanded the educational rights to which your child is entitled beyond those merely provided for under federal law and to choose a lawyer familiar not only with IDEA 2004, but also with any state law rights to which your child may be entitled.

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