Special Education – Legal Updates

Dec. 22, 2016

Now that our schools are out for the holidays it’s a good time to revisit some of the legal issues that will be decided in 2017.

Arguments have been heard in Fry v. Napoleon Public Schools (Case No. 15-497) and the Supreme Court will publish its decision in the case soon. This case will determine whether families must exhaust the remedies available to them under the IDEA before pursuing a case under the ADA.

Arguments are scheduled for Jan. 11 in the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The court will make its decision in the case sometime thereafter. This case could have significant implications for schools as they work to education children with disabilities. The case is one in which the court will weigh in on the educational benefit a student must receive in order for the school to demonstrate that it is in compliance with the requirement to provide FAPE. In the case parents have argued that because their student wasn’t making meaningful progress the school district should pay for placement at a private school.

Meanwhile, in Texas, US Dept. of Education officials have been conducting town hall meetings across the state to solicit input from the public. Stories from the families who have spoken are emotional and show how challenging things can be for students and families when special education services are denied or delayed. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2hrZvgs

With these issues at the national level and the upcoming Kansas Supreme Court decision in Gannon v. Kansas, 2017 is poised to be an exciting year! 

Oct. 10, 2016

Here’s an update on the Texas special education identification policy that limits schools to identify 8.5% or less, of their student populations: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Feds-order-Texas-to-eliminate-use-of-benchmark-on-9652019.php?t=6dcfc9f295438d9cbb&cmpid=email-premium

Also on the legal front, the Supreme Court of the United States will soon weigh in on a couple of cases that are important in the world of special education. Fry v. Napoleon Public Schools (Case No. 15-497) is a case that addresses the use of a service animal by a special needs student. The case will help determine how the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the IDEA are to work together to support the rights of handicapped children.
The second case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (No. 15-827) will decide what level of “educational benefit” schools must provide for children with disabilities to meet the FAPE (free, appropriate, public education) requirements in the IDEA.

Read more here: