Special Education Law
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). If a student has a disability and requires special education services in order to make educational and functional progress, their District must find them eligible to receive special education services and must create an appropriate individualized education program (IEP). The IEP's purpose is to address a student’s specific needs. An IEP will contain goals, services, modifications, class sizes, and placement recommendations for the student, in order to address the students’ needs and allow the student to make meaningful progress.
Students with disabilities are further entitled to receive a FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). That is, a District cannot unnecessarily segregate students with disabilities from typically developing peers, and a student’s placement and service recommendations must be individualized to the student’s needs.
The purpose of an IEP is to create an appropriate program so a student can make meaningful progress. In the landmark Supreme Court case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, 137 S. Ct. 988 (2017), the Supreme Court held the standard for whether a District’s IEP is appropriate is whether the “IEP [is] reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances,” which is “markedly more demanding than [a] ‘merely more than de minimis’ test.” The Endrew F. case made clear Districts must tailor IEPs to each student’s specific needs and create programs that will sufficiently challenge each student. Moreover, the court held that special education programs must be “ambitious” for our students.
If a District fails to recommend or provide an appropriate IEP to a student with a disability, parents can unilaterally place their child in an appropriate private school and then seek reimbursement for that school’s tuition from the District. Parents, however, must first provide appropriate notice to the District, notifying it of their intent to unilaterally place their child in another school.
If you believe your child should be eligible for special education services, is not receiving appropriate services, has not made meaningful progress, or needs a different placement in order to make progress, the special education attorneys at Barger & Gaines are here to help discuss your case and your options.