Monday, July 27, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling for Parents of Special Ed Students

A U.S. Supreme Court Ruling You Should Know About
By Cassandra Archie

On Monday, June 22, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 that parents of special education students can seek public reimbursement for private school tuition. The ruling involved a case in Texas of a high school student with learning disabilities who was found not eligible by his school district for special education because the school district said his disorder did not affect his educational progress.
His parents placed him in a private residential school and sought reimbursement.
The school district thought for sure the 1997 amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, which prohibits reimbursement for students who never received special education services in public school, would be the deciding factor in this case.
But Justice John Paul Stevens who wrote for the majority said, “It would be strange for the act (IDEA) to provide a remedy, as all agree it does, where a school district offers a child inadequate special education services but to leave parents without relief in the more egregious situation in which the school district unreasonably denies a child access to such services altogether.”
Justice John Paul Stevens concluded “IDEA authorizes reimbursement for the cost of private special education services when a school district fails to provide a (free appropriate public education) and the private school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special education or related services through the public school.”

Is this ruling a victory for parents and students who are seeking private school placement, or a drain on public school special education dollars?

1 comment:

Maria, Brooklyn NY said...

I find it difficult to relate to private school cases where parents unilaterally place their children in private schools. But what I can identify with is schools failing to identify a child as eligible for special education services and believing their hands washed of the matter. Too many IEP teams do not treat parents as IEP team members and unilaterally make decisions without much consideration to parent's input. If parents were treated with more respect, perhaps parents would not be seeking private schools.