Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Right to a Free and Appropriate Education

A common concern of parents with kiddos on the spectrum is the availability of appropriate education.  The US government has safeguards in place to help ensure your child receives the schooling he or she requires.  Here are some examples of legal cases presented by parents and their outcomes.

Taken from Wrightslaw.com

Amanda C. v. Clark County Sch. Dist. and Nevada Dept of Educ. (9th Cir. 2001) Court of Appeals reinstates hearing officer's decision; cites school employees for failure to inform parents of rights; procedural safeguards violations.

Deal v. Hamilton County TN Board of Ed (6th Cir. 2004) Court of Appeals found that school predetermined child's placement with "unofficial policy" of refusing to provide one-on-one ABA Lovaas programs; procedural violations can cause substantive harm; that "the approach offered by the School System provides little or no chance of self-sufficiency for an autistic child while, under the Lovaas approach, self-sufficiency is a real possibility;" that while schools are not required to "maximize" child's potential, "there is a point at which the difference in outcomes between two methods can be so great that provision of the lesser program could amount to denial of a FAPE."

Deal v. Hamilton Dept of Educ (TN Due Process Decision Aug 2001) Administrative law judge issues 45 page decision after a 27-day due process hearing; finds procedural safeguards and LRE violations; substantive violations; discusses credibility problems with school witnesses re: closed minds, evasiveness. (Appealed; overturned by U. S. District Court; appealed; U. S. District Court decision overturned by Court of Appeals for Sixth Circuit)

G. v. Fort Bragg Dependent Schools (4th Cir. 2003). ABA/Lovaas case; rights of children who attend Dept of Defense schools; FAPE & educational benefit; methodology; reimbursement for home-based Lovaas program; procedural safeguards and notice by parents; compensatory education for failure to provide FAPE; prevailing party status & attorneys fees (pdf)

School Bd of Henrico County VA v. R T, (E.D. VA 2006). Comprehensive decision about school district's repeated failure to provide an appropriate program to young autistic child; tuition reimbursement for private school that employs ABA approach. Includes lengthy discussion of autism, ABA v. TEACCH models; burden of proof; FAPE and LRE; IEP goals; measurable progress; what deference should be provided to school board programs and testimony of school board witnesses. Slams school board's "inertia," low expectations, and failure to use proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities.

School Bd of Henrico County VA v. Z.P (4th Cir. 2005) Parents of young child with autism rejected typical generic preschool program and requested tuition reimbursement for private program that utilizes one-on-one ABA therapy. Issues include deference to hearing officer as factfinder and deference to opinions of professional public school educators.

L.B. and J.B. ex rel. K.B. v. Nebo UT Sch. District (10th Cir. 2004). Parents of child with autism reimbursed for ABA/Lovaas therapy and private preschool that was LRE for child; educational benefit; impartiality of hearing officer.

Stefan Jaynes v. Newport News (4th Cir. 2001). ABA/Lovaas case; parents to be reimbursed for expenses of ABA / Lovaas program.

Stefan Jaynes v. Newport News (E.D. VA 2000) ABA/Lovaas case (in pdf). ABA/ Lovaas case; school fails to provide appropriate program; judge orders school to reimburse parents more than 100K.

Michael v. Kanawaha (S.D. WVA 2000) ABA/Lovaas case (in pdf). One of Pete's favorite cases, includes excellent discussion of IEPs. See also Order in Michael v. Kanawaha

Mr. X v. New York (S.D. NY 1997). Early ABA Lovaas case; discusses autism, components of effective educational programs for children with autism.

T. H. v. Bd. Ed. Palatine IL (N. D. IL 1999). Powerful well-written decision in ABA-Lovaas case; discusses methodology, IEP development process; IEP goals and objectives, individualization, educational benefit, unilateral placement by parents, reimbursement, standard of review. (pdf)

Independent Sch. Dist. No. 318 (MN SEA 1996). Early ABA-Lovaas case; child represented by Sonja Kerr.

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