Can Religious Schools Discriminate Against Students With Disabilities? -
Michigan Supreme Court looks at decisions at Catholic school.
Supreme Court Ruling, Rising Police Presence in Schools Spur Miranda Questions
- A few weeks before summer break, an eighth-grader in Fairfax County was
pulled from his civics class and led into an office. An assistant principal told
him that classmates had reported hearing him say he’d smoked marijuana with five
other boys — days earlier, after school hours, off campus. A uniformed police
officer joined the interview.
Court Grants Cert in Private Placement Case - The Supreme Court has granted
certiorari in a private placement case from Oregon, giving it a new opportunity
to decide under what circumstances families of students with disabilities can be
reimbursed for the cost of private tuition. Forest Grove Sch. Dist. v. T.A., 50
IDELR 1 (9th Cir. 2008), petition for cert. filed (U.S. 09/03/08) (No. 08-305).
The court announced its decision Jan. 16, after first discussing it Jan. 9.
Briefs by the district are due Feb. 25, and briefs by the family of T.A. are due
March 25. The Oregon case is important because it gives the Court another chance
to decide what Congress meant in 1997 when it amended the IDEA and described at
least one scenario under which parents could be reimbursed for the private
education of a student with disabilities. Under that scenario, a court or
hearing officer may award tuition reimbursement to the parents of a child who
has previously received special education services under public auspices if the
district failed to offer FAPE. (From Special Ed News,
Jan 22, 2009)
Disabled Palm Beach County Students Unfairly Punished for Behavior, Group Claims
- Palm Beach county students with documented behavioral or emotional
disabilities are not getting the academic or emotional services they need and
are instead being unfairly punished for behaviors that are due to their
disabilities, according to a complaint submitted today to the State Department
of Education. The complaint was filed on behalf of four county students and the
Florida State Conference of the NAACP by the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach
County, the Southern Legal Counsel and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil
rights advocacy group.
Do Parents Really Have a Right to Participate in IEP
Decision-Making? Seventh Circuit Says No. Parents Take Case To U.S. Supreme
Court. J. H. – a child with behavioral and social challenges – was removed
from the public schools by his parents, placed at a private school and later
diagnosed with autism. The public school district vowed to “start from scratch”
in crafting a new Individualized Educational Program (IEP) that would meet his
needs. Despite that stated intention, the district had already decided to place
J.H. in a district school. District personnel then wrote an IEP for J.H. with
goals and objectives that fit that placement determination. Placement at the
private school was not considered. As an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) later
noted, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
“placement” must be determined based upon the IEP, which takes into account a
child’s needs and includes parental input. The ALJ held that deciding placement
before the IEP was written was premature, denied the parents meaningful
participation in the IEP process, and ultimately constituted a denial of a free
and appropriate education as required by IDEA. A lower court disagreed saying
that the school district had no obligation to consider placing J.H. in the
private setting until it had concluded he could not receive an appropriate
education in a public district school. The parents appealed. A split panel of
the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court saying that “IDEA
actually required that the school district assume public placement” for J.H..
The parents now seek leave to appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. Read the
parents’ brief to the
U.S. Supreme Court as well as supporting briefs from
Autism Speaks and the
Tourette Syndrome Association.
Arizona School Voucher Programs Ruled Unconstitutional - It is
unconstitutional for the state to give parents money to help pay private-school
tuition for their disabled or foster children, the Arizona Court of Appeals
decided Thursday. The 2006 law violates the state Constitution's ban on using
public money to aid private schools, the panel said.
Graduation Rate Draws Florida Lawsuit - Amid mounting national
frustration over high school graduation rates, the School District of Palm Beach
County in Florida has been thrust onto center stage. In a class-action lawsuit,
the American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that the district boost its
graduation rates and reduce the gaps in those rates between racial and
socioeconomic groups. "If the ACLU is successful, this
is going to shake everything up, because it will be a whole different set of
expectations about who is supposed to solve the problems," says Paul Houston,
executive director of the American Association of School Administrators in
Upholds Award of Four Years of Compensatory Ed - On March 20, 2007, the
District Court of Georgia ordered the Atlanta Independent School System to pay
Jarron Draper's tuition at a private special education school for four years, or
until he graduated from high school, as prospective compensatory education for
their persistent failure to educate him.
CA Home Schooling Case: Rachel L v LA County
Department of Children and Family Services - In the context of a child under
California protective services jurisdiction, In re Rachel L holds it is not
unconstitutional to require home schoolers to obtain teaching certification
("credentials"), just as any other teacher would be statutorily required to do.
The 2/28/08 decision and
the 3/07/08 amendment
to that decision are available for download.
Government Concedes Vaccine-Autism Case in Federal Court - Now What? -
After years of insisting there is no evidence to link vaccines with the onset of
autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the US government has quietly conceded a
vaccine-autism case in the Court of Federal Claims.
Parents Don't Need Lawyer in Ed Cases - Parents need not hire a lawyer to
sue public school districts over their children's special education needs, the
Supreme Court ruled Monday. The decision came in the
case of an autistic boy from Ohio, whose parents argued they were effectively
denied access to the courts because they could not afford a lawyer.
Federal law gives every child the right to a free appropriate public
education, which in the case of special needs children sometimes means
enrollment in a private facility.
Lawyer Argues for Parents' Right to Sue -
Parents should not be forced to hire a lawyer to sue public school districts
over their children's special education needs, the lawyer for parents of an
autistic child told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
Children's Rights Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of Kids Abused And Neglected In
Michigan Custody - Recently in Detroit Federal Court, the advocacy group
Children's Rights filed suit against Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and
Marianne Udow, Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS), for failing
to take the necessary steps to protect the nearly 19,000 foster care children in
the custody of the state. The state immediately agreed to enter into settlement
negotiations with plaintiffs to resolve the lawsuit.
Michigan Appeals Court Finds Lawyer is Owed Open Meetings Fees -
Attorneys who represent themselves in successful Open Meetings Act cases are
entitled to an award of attorney fees from public bodies, a divided Court of
Appeals has ruled.
Province Wins Autism Ruling - Family worries what will happen now to
9-year-old son. Natoma Houston sat at her computer frozen in disbelief yesterday
morning as she read the bottom line of the Ontario Court of Appeal's decision on
funding for intensive therapy for autistic children over age 5.
Prevail in ABA Case, Costs Could Exceed Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars -
On May 26, 2006, U. S. District Court Judge Robert Payne issued an extensive
pro-child decision in Henrico County School Board v. R. T., a tuition
reimbursement case on behalf of a child with autism. The judge found that the
school system knowingly and repeatedly failed to provide an appropriate
educational program for a young child with autism. In awarding reimbursement for
a private school that employs intensive one-on-one ABA therapy to educate
children with autism, the judge slammed the School Board for inertia: "The Court
finds that the School Board’s conduct in this matter reflects the inertia to
which Congress was referring when it wrote in the IDEA that 'the implementation
of this chapter has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus
on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for
children with disabilities.'" 20 U. S. C. § 1400(c)(4). Henrico County School
Board v. R. T.
the decision in Henrico County School Board v. R. T. (from Wrightslaw)
School System Loses Autism Case - A federal judge yesterday found the
Henrico County school system knowingly and repeatedly failed to provide a system
of instruction suitable to a severely autistic child. In a
opinion laced with criticism of the school system's compliance with education
disabilities law, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne sets hearings to
determine what Henrico schools should pay for failing to meet federal standards
of care regarding this child.
Bar Association Battles
Parents - The Cleveland Bar Association is threatening to fine the
parents of an autistic boy $10,000 for not hiring a lawyer when they brought,
and largely won, a court case on their son's behalf four years ago. After a long
court battle, Brian and Susan Woods settled their case with the Akron school
district in 2002 when the district agreed to send Daniel, now 11, to a private
Federal Judge Rules
That Asperger's Syndrome is a Disability - A York County girl who
suffers from Asperger's syndrome is entitled to special education services
even though she completes her homework, behaves well in class and scores
well on tests, a federal judge ruled.
Family Sues School System
RE: Closet as “Time out Room” - In
February, we introduced you to Boone Garvey, an autistic child who attended
Lee County Primary School. His mother said Boone had been locked in a closet
at school as a punishment for misbehaving. The school system defended the
action, saying the closet was, in fact, a "time out room."
FL State v Christie Supports
the Filing of Charges if Teachers See and Fail to Report Abuse Taking Place
In Their Midst at School (PDF) -
In State v Christie the
Florida Court of Appeals (3rd District, Nov. 2, 2005), held that a teacher
may be charged with caregiver neglect under the Florida child abuse and
neglect statute (excerpt): “The charges in this
case stemmed from incidents where Christie, a public school teacher, stood
by and did nothing while her teacher’s aide bound certain students to their
desks and/or to the blackboard with adhesive tape, in the classroom. The
State charged Christie with five counts of child neglect with no bodily harm
under sections 827.03 (3)(a) and (c). That statute defines “neglect of a
child” as a caregiver’s failure or omission to provide a child with care or
supervision. Section 827.01(1), in turn, defines “caregiver” as “a parent,
adult household member, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare.””
The holding stands for the proposition that the traditional status of
teachers as "in loco parentis" supports the notion that actionable
abuse/neglect charges may be filed (and proven) by a prosecutor when the
teacher ignores abusive/neglectful actions of others in his or her midst.
Schaffer v. Weast:
How Will the Decision Affect YOU?
Run Deep - In an opinion piece, Attorney Kalman
R. Hettleman, who's also a member of the Baltimore City school board, notes that
the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision that ruled parents must bear the burden
of proving the inadequacy of their child's special-education plan, did not
overrule states that have put that burden on school districts. Hettleman urges
Maryland to pass such a law.
High Court Rules Against
Parents in Special Education Case - Download
and read the decision (PDF) here. The Supreme Court ruled today that
parents who demand better special education programs for their children have
the burden of proof in the challenges. The 6-2 decision, written by retiring
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, said that if parents challenge a program, they
have the burden in an administrative hearing of showing that the program is
insufficient. If schools bring a complaint, the burden rests with them,
Schools, Seek Help For Diabetic Students - Three Danville parents,
another from Fremont and the American Diabetes Association filed a lawsuit
Tuesday to require California public schools to assist in insulin injections
and provide other help for diabetic students.
U. S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Schaffer v. Weast -
Schaffer v. Weast, the Court heard oral arguments on the burden of proof in
special education cases. In a dispute between parents and school officials,
should schools be required to prove that the plans they propose are adequate
Federal Judge Approves Record $6.7 Million Settlement in Special Ed Case
- The Manhattan Beach Unified School District and the California Department
of Education have agreed to pay more than $6.7 million to a child with a
disability and his parents for their failure to appropriately educate the
child for more than five years.
District Settles With Family
For $6.7 Million - The Manhattan
Beach school district and the state education department have agreed to pay
more than $6.7 million to settle a long-running legal battle with the family
of an autistic special education student.
Appeals Court Shoots Down
'Durant IV' - The Court of Appeals ruled today that school districts
failed to prove that the state pushed an unfunded mandate on them in 2000
when former Gov. John Engler created the Center for Education Performance
and Information (CEPI), but didn't give school districts the money to run
Court Rejects Suit on
School Board Reports - Not every change in required school activities
invokes Headlee Amendment provisions for state reimbursement of costs, a
unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals has ruled in turning aside claims by
several hundred districts for costs of maintaining records in an information
database created in 2000.
Special Needs at Stake in
Court - It was disappointing to find
Hawai'i back at the Supreme Court, this time with an amicus brief opposing
the interests of parents of special-needs children. The attorney general's
brief argues that schools have greater expertise and access to information,
so their judgment as to a child's educational program should be entitled to
more deference, and the burden of proof to show otherwise should rest with
Supports Montgomery Schools in Lawsuit - The Bush administration has
sided with school systems in a special education dispute between a disabled
student's parents and the Montgomery County public schools that is before the
U.S. Supreme Court.
Taking Adequacy to
the Courts: Examining School Finance Litigation (PDF) - The issue of
whether students are receiving funding for an adequate education is being
driven to the forefront of court dockets, with 25 states currently facing
school finance lawsuits. Recently, education advocates have shifted focus
from equal education to adequate education. They have come to realize that
allocating the same amount of resources for every district doesn't work.
Some students have educational needs that simply require more money -- and
this applies not only to students with disabilities, but also to poor
students. The current issue of "NSBA Leadership Insider" outlines current
school finance adequacy court cases and legislation pending at both state
and federal levels.
Unbelievable Cases Continue - Two Articles from
WrightsLaw: Amid Affluence, a Struggle Over Special Education and
School Board Plans to Appeal Case to Supreme Court - And Work Toward
Woman's Dog Has Its Day - Joyce Grad,
55, of Birmingham sits with Lady in her apartment on Tuesday. A
federal jury in Detroit sided with Grad in a lawsuit that may have a
big impact on mentally ill people who request no-pet waivers from
condos and co-op boards.
High Court to Hear Maryland Special Ed Case - Montgomery County
couple's suit contends that school officials, if challenged, must
prove they are meeting their legal obligations to special education
students. [Free login/registration required.]
U.S. District Court Finds Children
Have a Right to Counsel in Dependency Cases (PDF) -
The U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division
issued an order on February 8, 2005 in a class action lawsuit brought by
Children's Rights, Inc. against the Georgia state child welfare agencies and
officials regarding children in Georgia's foster care system. Among other
things, plaintiffs allege the defendants have failed to provide adequate and
effective legal representation for children in dependency proceedings. In its
order the court stated that children in dependency cases have a constitutional
right to counsel that may be violated by excessive caseloads. The question of
the excessive nature of the caseloads will now go to trial. Thanks to the
National Association of Counsel for Children for sharing this news.
Alternative Schooling Not
Required, U.S. Court Rules - Although Michigan's constitution
guarantees the right to a free public elementary and secondary education,
neither it nor state law provides a right to alternative education for those
older than the drop-out age of 16, a panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of
Appeals ruled Monday in a case arising from the notorious 2000 murder of a
New Baltimore teen pizza worker.
Pennsylvania Agrees to
Changes in Special Ed to Increase Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in
Regular Ed Classes - The state of Pennsylvania and the Public Interest
Law Center of Philadelphia have concluded an historic
settlement of litigation designed to change the quality of special education
services throughout the state. Pursuant to the agreement, the state will
change how it helps its 501 school districts comply
with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (IDEA) and how it monitors that compliance.
The settlement is designed to increase the inclusion
of students with disabilities in regular education classes with non-disabled
Another Ruling Calls School Vouchers Unconstitutional - A disappointed Gov. Bush still believes a 1999 law doesn't violate the church-state barrier. The Florida Supreme Court may weigh in next.
Michigan Court Orders
Worker's Compensation to Child - A company must pay worker's
compensation benefits for the daughter of an employee killed on the job even
though the unmarried worker had not provided support for the girl while he
was alive, a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals has ruled. The court,
in a per curiam ruling released Wednesday, said Prestige Painting must
provide 500 weeks in benefits to the girl because the law requires payments
to the dependent children of workers.
Federal District Court
Holds Removal of Children Unlawful - In an opinion issued July 30, 2004,
the federal court for the Western District of Michigan refused to dismiss a
Section 1983 action against state agency (FIA) workers who entered a home and
removed children without a written order. The opinion contains an interesting
discussion of case law regarding immunity of public officials and of the legal
requirements to remove children.
U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals Finds Housing Law Requires Accessible Front Door - Federal
housing discrimination laws require the front door of a new multi-unit
apartment must be made handicapped accessible even if the design allows
access through another means, a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The circuit was the first in the
nation to rule on the issue as it blocked further construction on 19
apartment buildings in Michigan and Ohio that provided handicapped access
only through a patio door.
Medicaid Laws - Illinois' health-care program for poor children
violates federal law because it fails to ensure that youngsters receive
appropriate preventative medicine, from immunizations to tests for lead in
their blood, a federal judge has ruled.
Wheelchair Users Sue Detroit Over Buses With Broken Lifts - A group
of wheelchair users sued the City of Detroit on Tuesday, claiming half of
the city's buses lack working wheelchair lifts as required by federal law.
New Michigan Court Decision:
Physical Safety (PDF) - On July 1, 2004, the Michigan Court of
Appeals decided the case of Miller v Lord. Among the Court's conclusions is
a finding that the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act does
not apply to children at school who have IEPs, even if the civil rights
violation alleged has to do with physical safety rather than educational
issues. The opinion also contains a fairly clear explanation of the
governmental immunity issues involved in these kinds of situations, and why
it is so difficult to hold schools or teachers liable when a child is
physically harmed at school. [Source: J. Lester]
Education Ruling to be
Appealed - The School Board is appealing an order to provide special
education to a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, arguing
that it could open such services to thousands of other students with ADHD.
Standards Spawn Court Fight - The state is failing the children in its fifth-largest
school district, which has a large number of children who live
in poverty and understand little English, by holding them to the
same academic standards as their counterparts in wealthier
districts, an attorney for the Reading School District argued
Autism Court Decision -
Parents of children with autism had their
day in the Supreme Court of Canada last week. And the outcome
could mean more help for autistic children in P.E.I. Four B.C.
parents want Canada's highest court to force the provincial
government there to pay for a very intense and very expensive
treatment for young children with autism. In P.E.I. some of
the Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, treatment is covered.
The treatment is intense and administered one-to-one. That
makes it expensive.
Disabled Win Right to Sue States Over Court Access -
The Supreme Court upheld the rights of disabled people under a
national law meant to protect them, ruling Monday that a
paraplegic who crawled up the steps of a small-town courthouse
can sue over the lack of an elevator.
Help Backlog for
Mentally Retarded in State May Ease - Judge indicates
he'll OK consent decree settling federal suit brought by
activists. After four years of federal litigation, the state
of Tennessee and a group of advocacy attorneys are on the
verge of a breakthrough that promises to shore up the state's
struggling support network for the mentally retarded.
Charges EPA Ignoring "Lost" Mercury - A lawsuit filed in February against
the Bush Administration asserts that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
is failing to protect the public health, and violating the Clean Air Act, by
ignoring tons of unaccounted for mercury emissions each year. The suit, filed by
Earthjustice on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and
Sierra Club, asks the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review a recently
published EPA rule on mercury because it fails to address "lost" mercury
disappearing from a handful of chlorine plants around the country.
Retaliation! One Million Dollar Verdict for Special Ed Teacher
Upheld! - On Monday, April 5, 2004, the U. S. Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the jury verdict and
reinstated the 1 million dollar award to Pamella Settlegoode.
The decision clarifies the importance of freedom of speech for
Federal Court Upholds State Medicaid Formulary - Michigan's Medicaid drug
formulary - a program to save the state money by requiring drug companies to
agree to discount the cost of their drugs to be included on an approved drug
list - has been upheld as lawful by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia.
Mainstreaming Rejected - In a ruling hailed as a
victory for disabled children, a federal judge has ruled that
a 4-year-old child with Down syndrome must be "mainstreamed"
at the preschool level at least temporarily and that, after an
initial trial period, Pennsylvania education officials must
put the burden on the school district to prove that a
non-mainstream placement is more appropriate.
Schoolers Do Not Have Right to Play on HS Teams: MI
Court of Appeals - Home schooled students do
not have a right to play for sports teams of schools in the districts in which
they live, a unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals has ruled, rejecting
arguments that the policies by schools and a state athletic association violate
equal protection and religious freedom rights of the students. (3-04)
New York Times Editorial:
Lane v. Tennessee
- Can disabled people be forced to crawl up the courthouse steps?
R. v FAIRFAX COUNTY BOARD [4th Circuit Court - 07/29/03] - The Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require an educational agency to
include in its procedural safeguards notice, mandated by 20 U.S.C.A. section
1415 (West 2000), an explicit statement that parents in Virginia have a two-year
period in which to request a due process hearing and to indicate when that
period begins to run.
Education Defined -
Claremont II and the other
New Hampshire Supreme Court
Decisions require that the State of New Hampshire ensure that all
students be afforded an "adequate education" which is more than just
providing the basics. As described in
Claremont II the Court "look[ed] to the following
seven criteria articulated by the Supreme Court of Kentucky" "as benchmarks of a
constitutionally adequate public education.
MA Appeals Court:
Parents Can Represent Their
Children in Disability Disputes - Parents can sue on behalf of their
disabled children -- without hiring a lawyer -- to make sure their child gets an
appropriate public education, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
MI Oakland Schools:
Learning-disabled Boy Turned Away
- Family in court to force Oakland Schools to provide specialized programming
for their son.
Disabilities Act faces Supreme Court test - The decision on whether the
law requires buildings to be handicap-accessible will affect Iowa's older
Employee Benefits Plan Administrator Acted Irrationally in not Covering
Autism-Related Therapies - A health insurance plan administrator acted
arbitrarily and capriciously in denying coverage of autism- related speech,
integrated sensory, and occupational therapies for a plan participant's son ,
the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled July 21,
2003 (Wheeler v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., N.D. Ill., No. 01 C 6064, 7/21/03).
Suit Moves to Appeals Court -
The mother of an autistic boy says hearing him called "stupid"
and "crazy" by his kindergarten classmates was only part of the
problem, according to court records.