The Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD) was established originally under the name Ohio Coalition for the Education of Handicapped Children in 1972. It was founded by five parent/citizen groups along with three professional groups to advocate for the appropriate education of children with disabilities. The five parent/citizen groups were called Citizens Committees for Special Education from the following Ohio cities: Dayton, Toledo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.
The majority of these parents on the committees had children with learning disabilities or mental retardation. The major committee representatives at the beginning were Paula Pierce, of Dayton, who had a son with hearing impairment; Pat Lilac, also of Dayton, who had a daughter with a hearing impairment; Mary Rumm, of Toledo, who had a child with learning disabilities; Mary Giallombardo, of Cleveland, who had a child with learning disabilities; Ed Lippitt, of Dayton, who had child with cerebral palsy; and Ray Horn, of Columbus, who had a daughter with mental retardation.
The three professional groups who offered financial and organizational support to these parent committees were: the Ohio School Psychology Association (O.S.P.A.), the Ohio Federation Council for Exceptional Children (O.F.C.E.C.) and the Ohio Speech and Hearing Association (O.S.H.A.). Originally The Ohio Coalition was funded only by private donations from the parent and professional organizations. The groups formed the coalition because, like most states at the time, Ohio excluded many children with disabilities from public education. Unable to make progress in that public policy arena, the groups decided to come together to insure that parents' voices were heard regarding significant public policy issues affecting children with disabilities. The professional organizations, through the dues and donations of their members provided the financial support for the parents who volunteered.
Kay Hughes, from Columbus, a parent of a son with a learning disability, served as the first director of the organization in 1972. O.C.E.H.C. was incorporated in 1974 and became a 501 (c) 3 non profit organization. The initial trustees of the organization were Robert Carson, Sylvania, Ohio; Patricia Ann Lilac, Dayton, Ohio; and Jack Dauterman, Columbus, Ohio, all parents or consumers. Kay Hughes was followed as director by Paula Pierce, from Dayton, a parent of a son with a hearing impairment as the second director, followed by Linda Sabo, from Columbus, a parent of a daughter with learning disabilities as the third director. In December 1979, Margaret Burley, became the director after serving on the Ohio Coalition Board of Directors for 5 years.