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Major special ed supreme court case - how did I miss this?!
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seeker









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 12:56 am
This is a big deal and has made it to SCOTUS and I can't believe I never even knew it was an issue! Apparently a kid with autism and ADHD was in a public school making just about zero progress, IEP goals hadn't changed for years, and they were barely even keeping him alive it seems (he'd run away? and was using the floor as a bathroom?) When they switched him to a private school he made a lot of progress in a short time. So the parents of course then sued the dept of ed to cover their private tuition since the public school had failed to provide an appropriate free education for this child. And they LOST the case, unbelievably, because the public school said that just because the parents weren't satisfied with the kid's progress that didn't mean they'd done anything wrong, and the law doesn't clearly enough define just how much they have to accomplish in order to be considered as providing FAPE.

WOW. Just unbelievable. I had no idea this was even a question! But now that it is I sure hope they come up with a good answer! If not, maybe we can get Trump to revamp IDEA in this respect. I mean O.M.G. How is it not criminal to take a child who could achieve great things and claim to provide them with an education while just barely babysitting them?

Obviously since I just heard about this now and shared it here right away, I haven't had a chance to research it yet, maybe that's why I'm in such a pluffle over this. Getting tuition reimbursed is never easy but still, around here it happens all the time, so I never heard of anything like this.

https://www.washingtonpost.com.....00824a2b4a
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marina









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 2:14 am
This question and this case are both much more complicated. I encourage you to read the briefs submitted by both sides. I also encourage you to consider the issue from all sides. For example, some parents have severely disabled children whose rates of progress will not satisfy them, regardless of anything that the district does or doesn't do. Schools cannot fix everyone and the exact contours of FAPE have been debated for many years.

If you think you can get Trump to revamp anything, I wish you much luck and fortune in your adventures over the next four years.
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STMommy









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 9:57 am
marina wrote:
This question and this case are both much more complicated. I encourage you to read the briefs submitted by both sides. I also encourage you to consider the issue from all sides. For example, some parents have severely disabled children whose rates of progress will not satisfy them, regardless of anything that the district does or doesn't do. Schools cannot fix everyone and the exact contours of FAPE have been debated for many years.

If you think you can get Trump to revamp anything, I wish you much luck and fortune in your adventures over the next four years.


YES
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sourstix









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 10:11 am
But the child is doing so much better that doesn't tell me the parents weren't happy! That's telling me that the public school wasn't doing what the private school is and the child is doing much better then the public school.

That alone is a big flag. Forget about what the parents say, facts speak for themselves. I hope the parents focus on the improvements and keep doing what they are doing so this child gets what he needs.
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seeker









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 10:37 am
sourstix wrote:
But the child is doing so much better that doesn't tell me the parents weren't happy! That's telling me that the public school wasn't doing what the private school is and the child is doing much better then the public school.

That alone is a big flag. Forget about what the parents say, facts speak for themselves. I hope the parents focus on the improvements and keep doing what they are doing so this child gets what he needs.

Exactly. Parents dissatisfied means nothing, but if a change in education makes a dramatic, demonstrable difference then that is a strong case that the first place did not provide the kid's needs. Also, they said the public school had not documented progress - even if they claim progress was made, this is the reason they drive us crazy with paper trails, because if you can't show it then it may as well not exist.

Like I said I shared this without investigating all the details but obviously if scotus took the case it's not just whiny parents.
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Fox









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 12:11 pm
Marina, do you think this case has the potential to impact other issues connected with public education?

For example, if a parent can sue a school district for not providing adequate special education services in line with professional standards, I would imagine that 90 percent of the parents of kids in Chicago's public schools could likewise argue that the schools weren't doing an adequate job.
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miami85









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 12:54 pm
I'm "familiar" with this concept, it was discussed in my courses. Appropriate does not = best education. As long as the program that they are making well-documented efforts to help the child, that satisfies FAPE. Private will always be better quality than pubic, doesn't mean public funds have to pay for it.
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seeker









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 1:21 pm
miami85 wrote:
I'm "familiar" with this concept, it was discussed in my courses. Appropriate does not = best education. As long as the program that they are making well-documented efforts to help the child, that satisfies FAPE. Private will always be better quality than pubic, doesn't mean public funds have to pay for it.

OK, but then we are still left with a question of what DOES "appropriate" mean. What makes your "efforts to help the child" appropriate?
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SixOfWands









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 1:41 pm
sourstix wrote:
But the child is doing so much better that doesn't tell me the parents weren't happy! That's telling me that the public school wasn't doing what the private school is and the child is doing much better then the public school.

That alone is a big flag. Forget about what the parents say, facts speak for themselves. I hope the parents focus on the improvements and keep doing what they are doing so this child gets what he needs.


I'm not entirely sure that its a big flag.

The Wrightslaw site discusses the Amy Rowley case. Amy was deaf. While she could read lips, her parents argued that she would do better with a sign interpreter. The school district refused to provide one. Amy did well in school, scoring between the 70th and 80th percentile. The courts found that although she may well have done even better with an interpreter, the schools were not required to provide one.

Indeed, virtually every student would do better in a small class setting with a highly-trained teacher. Does that mean that every school is required to limit class size to 5? A former colleague had a child who was brilliant, but troubled. He eventually sent the child to some sort of school that cost in the high 5-digits. It helped. Would the school board have been required to pay for that, although he was making adequate progress even without it?

How much progress is enough?

I'm not sufficiently familiar with the case discussed to have an opinion on it right now. But the fact that a child does better in a private school is neither surprising nor troubling to me.
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seeker









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 2:00 pm
Regardless of the specific case details, the point is that the very existence of this case will force scotus to redefine what fape means, which is a huge deal whichever way it goes, and I wonder what that will look like. They're saying this is going to be one of those cases that makes it into the next round of intro to special ed classes (when I took that about ten years ago, there were maybe 3 or so cases like that...)
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penguin









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 2:38 pm
Are there any upper limits on spending for special ed? (Curious as a taxpayer).
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saw50st8









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 2:40 pm
penguin wrote:
Are there any upper limits on spending for special ed? (Curious as a taxpayer).


My school district will pay up to $50,000 per kid going to a special ed non-public school should the local public school not be able to provide appropriate services within the public school system.
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gande









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 3:37 pm
Where was this story?

In nyc most jewish children are in a private school. It is easy to fight for religous or acedimic reasons. The city pays almost 100k for my daughter every year.

Ironicly, she is very delayed and it wouldnt make much of a difference if she goes to a good public school.
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nicole81









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 3:58 pm
gande wrote:
Where was this story?

In nyc most jewish children are in a private school. It is easy to fight for religous or acedimic reasons. The city pays almost 100k for my daughter every year.

Ironicly, she is very delayed and it wouldnt make much of a difference if she goes to a good public school.


"Religious reasons" has no merit as an argument for a free and appropriate public education.

Furthermore, the IDEA is federal legislation. It makes no difference what school district served this child, and this case will have national implications.
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marina









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 11:58 pm
seeker wrote:
Exactly. Parents dissatisfied means nothing, but if a change in education makes a dramatic, demonstrable difference then that is a strong case that the first place did not provide the kid's needs. Also, they said the public school had not documented progress - even if they claim progress was made, this is the reason they drive us crazy with paper trails, because if you can't show it then it may as well not exist.

Like I said I shared this without investigating all the details but obviously if scotus took the case it's not just whiny parents.


Again, plse read both sides. The district uses the private school's report to show that of course the child was making progress in the public school. He met that year's IEP goals because he was transferred right at the end of the public school year and he met those goals when the private school assessed him a few weeks later. So even the private school admitted that the public school did its job- that's how the district sees it.

If you look at the arguments, the district says he made progress academically and socially, but the parents were worried about behavior. Some of his academic IEP goals did not seem terribly far off for his grade. Everyone has a different side and you can't judge a case without really reading the briefs fully
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marina









  


Post  Wed, Jan 11 2017, 11:59 pm
seeker wrote:


Like I said I shared this without investigating all the details but obviously if scotus took the case it's not just whiny parents.


Scotus takes cases when the law is interpreted differently in different states- they like uniformity in federal laws. They NEVER take a case based on the facts alone. This case is not about this boy and this school at all. It's about whether there should be a uniform standard across the country.
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seeker









  


Post  Thu, Jan 12 2017, 12:03 am
Marina, yes, that uniform standard is the thing that is of interest here.

Thanks for summarizing the background info. I don't have time to read details of anyone else's cases, much as they would interest me Sad
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marina









  


Post  Thu, Jan 12 2017, 12:03 am
Fox wrote:
Marina, do you think this case has the potential to impact other issues connected with public education?

For example, if a parent can sue a school district for not providing adequate special education services in line with professional standards, I would imagine that 90 percent of the parents of kids in Chicago's public schools could likewise argue that the schools weren't doing an adequate job.


The outcome will affect only states whose courts obligate them to provide only a "more-than-trivial" educational benefit to special ed kids. Many states already provide more than that, usually called "meaningful" benefit standard.

That's really what this case is about. More than trivial v. meaningful and how those are defined.

I doubt very much that this can affect general education, although I'm sure some parents' attorneys will try. General education is left to the states, and most states reject educational malpractice claims categorically, because like you said, it would have no end. Special education, in contrast, is a federal matter.
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marina









  


Post  Thu, Jan 12 2017, 12:06 am
penguin wrote:
Are there any upper limits on spending for special ed? (Curious as a taxpayer).


No. The school districts are obligated to pay for whatever the child needs to get a free and appropriate public education. That's why this case is relatively important- some states may be on the hook for a lot more services if they will now have to provide a "meaningful" benefit instead of just "more than trivial" benefit.
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seeker









  


Post  Thu, Jan 12 2017, 12:08 am
Is the question really just "meaningful" vs "more than trivial?" Because to the untrained ear those both sound equally vague. I think a better question would be how do you define enough benefit? What's trivial? what's meaningful?
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