US Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education

24 Jun

The US Supreme Court has ruled in the case of Forest Grove School District v T.A. The question was fairly simple: can a child be granted a private placement (outside of the state educational system) if that child doesn’t receive any services from the district?

The district in question argued that the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) states that a placement could not be paid for (or in this case reimbursed as the parents were footing the bill at first) if:

“previously received special education or related services under the [school’s] authority.”

The family argued that the key provision of the IDEA is the concept of FAPE: the school system must provide a Free Appropriate Public Education. If the district has no appropriate placements, how can the parents be expected to place their child with the district?

The US Supreme Court sided with the parents:

Held: IDEA authorizes reimbursement for private special-education services when a public school fails to provide a FAPE and the private school placement is appropriate, regardless of whether the child previously received special-education services through the public school.


Kristina Chew has covered this already at Change.Org
, as have others.

This is exactly the sort of topic we as a community and as a part of a greater disability community should be discussing. It is vitally important to those with children in the US. I hope that such decisions will have impact internationally as well.

6 Responses to “US Supreme Court Ruling on Special Education”

  1. Sullivan June 24, 2009 at 19:57 #

    Here is a very good discussion of this case by a special ed lawyer:

    http://www.connecticutspecialeducationlawyer.com/occasional-rants/forest-grove-decidedand-the-spin-begins/

  2. autismherd June 25, 2009 at 03:10 #

    I fought to get my school district to pay for my sons private school(pre-k and K)I was able to prove that my districts special ed pre-school and kindergarten were inadequate for his needs.The school we placed him in was both out of the district and a mainstream environment. Unfortunately, the district was so angry over this-they made it virtually impossible for any other families to have the same option. As far as I know (this was 7 years ago)they have neither improved the special ed programs nor has any other family been able to choose a different school.

  3. thomas white June 3, 2011 at 16:35 #

    The question was fairly simple: can a child be granted a private placement (outside of the state educational system) if that child doesn’t receive any services from the district? this is a serious issue the court should be take right dicission.

    • Sullivan June 3, 2011 at 17:18 #

      thomas white,

      If a district places a child in a non-public school, the district is providing services. The student is a part of the district.

      Schools can and do make such placements.

  4. stanley seigler June 3, 2011 at 18:41 #

    [sullivan say] Schools can and do make such placements.

    indeed they do…sadly some are MISplacements…eg, placement in JRC at around $250,000 annually…

    it is impossible to understand why school districts (SD) fight FAPE…weel not so hard: it all has to do with funding…

    SDs should base programs on needs not budgets…let the legs tell the least they dont give a damn about their needs or them…then at least the needs and reason not funded are established…

    SD and special needs folks shouldnt have to play legal gotcha…

    stanley seigler

  5. David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. June 4, 2011 at 12:50 #

    Stanley: “SD and special needs folks shouldnt have to play legal gotcha…”

    Word, sir. Word.

    *nods in deference*

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