Special Education A National Roundup

Maine Parents Lose Their Bid for Autistic Son to Use Playground

By Ann Bradley — September 22, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Falmouth, Maine, school district did not discriminate against an autistic 9-year-old boy in suspending him from using a school playground, a superior court justice ruled last week.

Justice Thomas Humphrey on Aug. 31 denied a motion by the parents of Jan Rankowski to issue an injunction ordering district officials to allow their son to use the playground. The boy’s behavior posed “a significant risk to the health and safety of others on the playground,” the judge concluded.

Last fall, school officials granted the boy, who has Asperger’s syndrome and is being educated at home, permission to use the playground. But they suspended his privileges in November, after Jan swore at staff members, kneed a student in the groin, threw rocks, and misbehaved in other ways, the decision said.

School officials told the boy’s parents that they wanted the boy to be evaluated and a plan written for his use of the playground, the judge wrote. But the parents refused to consent to the evaluation, arguing that it wasn’t necessary because the family already had obtained private assessments of the child, he noted.

The parents sued the school district in February.

Melissa Hewey, a lawyer who represented the district, said the decision showed that the district’s action was not discriminatory, but stemmed from the family’s refusal to work with district officials. Ronald Coles, a lawyer who represents the family, said he would appeal the decision to the Maine Supreme Court.


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.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education Letter to the Editor Schools Must Do Better to Meet IDEA Requirements
More states must follow through on this law.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Special Education Test Your Knowledge: How Does Universal Screening for Dyslexia in Schools Work?
Take our quiz to gauge your knowledge of the language processing disorder—and find links to further reading.
1 min read
 Conceptual image of wooden alphabet tiles scattered across blue metallic surface.
Special Education Letter to the Editor Reevaluating My Language Around Disability
A recent opinion essay encouraged this teacher to unpack her approach to labeling students with specific disability classifications.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Special Education Can AI Write a Good IEP? What Special Education Experts Say
AI tools could ease paperwork burdens and offer new supports for students—but privacy and efficacy concerns are real.
3 min read
Image of a plan with a goal, with a digital texture.
Collage via iStock/Gettty