Their 1971 lawsuit ended with a landmark decree: Schools today are required by law to provide “a free appropriate public education” to children with all levels of disabilities, at a cost of tens of billions a year. But the pandemic has highlighted chronic problems: a shortage of trained teachers, and an unfair distribution of resources to students of color and those in low-income neighborhoods.

“It’s not as easy as it should be for parents to be able to get what they need for their children in regards to special education services,” Ms. Ansari told us.

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