Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Special Education News in Brief

Appeals Court Backs Parents in Spec. Ed. Placement

By Mark Walsh — January 08, 2013 2 min read

A Colorado school district must reimburse the parents of a student with learning disabilities as well as emotional and behavioral difficulties for the costs of the student’s enrollment at an out-of-state residential facility, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, parents who unilaterally place a child with disabilities in a private school may win reimbursement from their local school district if the district failed to provide a free, appropriate public education, and certain other conditions are met.

At particular issue in the case decided Dec. 28 is whether a district may be liable for such reimbursement when a child’s educational and mental-health needs are closely intertwined and the residential placement is addressing both needs.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver, ruled 3-0 in favor of the parents of a girl described in court papers as having severe emotional and mental-health needs. In 2008, her parents clashed with the 84,000-student Jefferson County district over her education plan under the IDEA before enrolling her at a residential facility that charges $9,800 per month, court papers say.

The district rejected the parents’ request for reimbursement because it viewed the student as being hospitalized out of state and thus not a responsibility of the district. After an administrative-hearing officer ruled for the parents, the district filed a federal lawsuit. A federal district court held that the school district must reimburse the costs except for those medical expenses involving a licensed doctor.

The school district’s appeal to the 10th Circuit court prompted a friend-of-the-court brief from the National School Boards Association and the state school boards’ groups for five of the six states in the circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah. (Wyoming is the sixth state.)

The parents drew the support of the Obama administration, with the U.S. Department of Justice filing a friend-of-the-court brief that was also signed by a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Education.

While residential placements can be costly, the federal brief in Jefferson County School District v. Elizabeth E. said, “the very small number of children for whom residential placement is the least restrictive environment are among the most vulnerable and historically undeserved children in need of IDEA services.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 09, 2013 edition of Education Week as Appeals Court Backs Parents in Spec. Ed. Placement

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
The 4 Biggest Challenges of MTSS During Remote Learning: How Districts Are Adapting
Leaders share ways they have overcome the biggest obstacles of adapting a MTSS or RTI framework in a hybrid or remote learning environment.
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Superintendent, Dublin Unified School District
Dublin, California (US)
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
Larkspur, California
Tamalpais Union High School District
Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13

Read Next

Special Education Schools Struggled to Serve Students With Disabilities, English-Learners During Shutdowns
The needs of students with IEPs and English-language learners were not often met after the pandemic struck, says a federal report.
3 min read
Young boy wearing a mask shown sheltering at home looking out a window with a stuffed animal.
Getty
Special Education How Will Schools Pay for Compensatory Services for Special Ed. Students?
States’ efforts so far suggest there won’t be enough money to go around for all the learning losses of students with disabilities from COVID-19 school shutdowns.
8 min read
student struggling blue IMG
iStock/Getty
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Special Education Whitepaper
Dyslexia: How to Identify Warning Signs at Every Grade
Read the new whitepaper by Dr. Pamela Hook to learn how to recognize the warning signs of dyslexia at different grade levels.
Content provided by Lexia Learning
Special Education Bridging Distance for Learners With Special Needs
The schooling services that English-language learners and students with disabilities receive don’t always translate well to remote learning. Here’s how schools can help.
9 min read
Special IMG
E+/Getty