Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Open Thread

The U.S. Supreme Court decided this week to hear the case of a student who receives Special Education services to sue for services his parents say he did not receive.  Background here. Basically,
What is the level of educational benefit that school districts must confer on children with disabilities to provide them with the free appropriate public education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
From local Sped advocate, Mary Kohli Griffin on the case:
It allows the family of a student with a disability to pursue a suit for money damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act when the school districts actions constitute discrimination against the student with a disability and the nature of the suit is not a complaint about the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education.
Heads up for a great music opportunity, a free summer jazz music camp.

What's on your mind?

10 comments:

madpark said...


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http://www.djc.com/cust/BuildingoftheYear2016/
Voting ends on the 28th.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Senate Democrats will have an opportunity to signal to their constituents and allies which new revenue proposals they support to fulfill their McCleary obligations: http://johnbraun.src.wastateleg.org/senate-advances-governors-tax-increases-gauge-legislative-support-aid-budget-talks/.

I'm glad that the Democrats will be able to show the Republicans their strength on taxes and revenue. This is a positive development.

Jacobin

Anonymous said...

"It allows the family of a student with a disability to pursue a suit for money damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act when the school districts actions constitute discrimination against the student with a disability and the nature of the suit is not a complaint about the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education"

Ok, can somebody parse this? How could a discriminatory action by the school district *NOT* be a de facto denial of a Free and Appropriate Public Education?

Wondering!

Josh Hayes said...

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Info and link to the online application here

Srsly said...

The Senate is holding up the levy cliff bill. Where was SEA and teachers last week?? Teachers are at risk of being displaced and/or loosing their jobs.

Seattle Public Schools did not have school last week. SEA needs to mobilize teachers, rally and contact various individuals in Olympia.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Srsly, my understanding from an insider is that the SEA is mostly silent because of some terms of their contract. Given that, their silence isn't surprising.

Mary G said...

Hi Melissa, It looks like you have attributed an explanation I gave about a different case, Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools with the issue in Endrew F v. Douglas City School District. Endrew F.'s oral argument was two weeks ago. You can listen to it at the Oyez blog, which you linked to. The issue in Endrew F. is the whether a school district must provide more than a de minimus or "some" benefit to a student with disability to meet the requirements of FAPE (a Free Appropriate Public Education.) Endrew F. will be decided some time before June of this year. The oral argument on the Oyez webpage is very well done, and is fairly accessible, as you can hear the justices asking questions with a synchronized highlighted transcript as well as highlighting of the justice's portraits when they speak. You can hear how Justice Ginsburg, though feeble-sounding, is still as sharp as a tack, and how Justice Roberts likes to use humor. It is only 61 minutes long, so I would encourage people to listen if they have a free hour.

The Fry case was decided recently. Fry concerned whether a family of a student with a disability can sue for money damages under the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 when alleging discrimination, rather than pursuing administrative exhaustion under IDEA, which does not allow for money damages. In Fry, Justice Kagan put forth a two -prong test: first, could the plaintiff have brought essentially the same claim if the alleged conduct had occurred at a public facility that was not a school—say, a public theater or library? And second, could an adult at the school—say, an employee or visitor—have pressed essentially the same grievance? The case will be remanded (or returned) to the lower court using that test. This decision is generally seen as a good decision for families of students with disabilities. Anyone who wants to read more on this topic can go to the SCOTUS blog website at http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/fry-v-napoleon-community-schools/ or the WrightsLaw website at http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/fry.napoleon.504.service.dog.htm.

As always, thank you for sharing your interest in issues concerning students with disabilities as well as the legal issues which have arisen out of IDEA, ADA and Section 504.

Best,

Mary Griffin

Melissa Westbrook said...

So sorry, Mary. I'll fix that.

Anonymous said...

>>>Ok, can somebody parse this? How could a discriminatory action by the school district *NOT* be a de facto denial of a Free and Appropriate Public Education?

Really? OK. How about when a school district provides a FAPE, but also abuses your kid? Restraint and isolation are still widely used in SPS. Given that the standard for FAPE is "de minimus" or minimal in plain English, you could get a FAPE and be abused in SPS with no legal recourse. You could be changed in public, also common, and still get a FAPE. You could be routinely humiliated or bullied and still be getting "some educational benefits" and therefore left without legal protections. You could be denied equal opportunity to field trips or athletics... and still be getting a tiny little bit of benefit. These situations aren't theoretical, they are just plain old everyday discrimination and/or abuse that happens in every school in the district. Imagine what would happen if families could go directly to a real court instead of the ALJ set up by OSPI. Imagine if abuse against disabled students was a crime like it is for other students? That is the issue in the older case.

In the Endrew case, I don't see how families are truly going to benefit from more vague rewordings: minimal, floor of opportunity, some benefit, substantial benefit. I mean is "a tiny little bit more than minimal" somehow better or more actionable? Yes it would be great to have an acknowledgement that more than practically nothing is required for FAPE. But historical interpretations like "substantial benefit" hasn't really done much for practice. It is telling that districts will go to the mat to defend the de minibus.

reader

Mary G said...

reader, For a good rundown on legal issues concerning restrain and isolation, please see http://stophurtingkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Use-of-Seclusion-and-Restraint-in-Public-Schools-The-Legal-Issues.pdf.

Your concern about how "some benefit" is going to be measured is directly on point. You should listen to the oral argument on the Oyez website.