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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Supreme Court Weighs Funding For Special Education

As noted in the Indiana Law blog today: Courts - "Court Weighs Funding For Special Education"

Robert Barnes and Daniel de Vise of the Washington Post reported in this story yesterday that begins:

The Supreme Court will consider a question this week that that has riled parents, cost local school boards here and around the country hundreds of millions of dollars, and vexed the justices themselves: When must public school officials pay for private schooling for children with special needs?

The issue has emerged as one of the fastest-growing components of local education budgets, threatening to "seriously deplete public education funds," which would then detract from the care of students with disabilities who remain in the system, according to a brief filed by the nation's urban school districts.

It has also become one of the most emotional and litigious disagreements between frazzled parents and financially strapped school officials, with the battles often ending in court. District of Columbia schools allocated $7.5 million of this year's $783 million budget just for such legal costs.

Congress and the court have already made it clear that every child with disabilities has a right to a "free appropriate public education." If the school system can't provide one for a child with a disability, it must reimburse parents for private school costs.

But the question for the court now is whether schools must be given a first chance to provide those services before placing the child in a private school. Some parents say that could force students, especially poor ones, to spend time in an undesirable situation before getting the help they really need.

The argument is today, the case is Forest Grove School District v. T. A. (08-305).

Here are the documents, via the SCOTUSBlog Wiki and Indiana Law Blog. I will have more to add later...............


Alice said...

This is scary. As mother of a special needs child and as a retired teacher, I can see both sides. Oklahoma keeps passing unfunded mandates and so does the National gov. No Child Left Behind is just one horrible example.