Arlington Central School District Board Of Education Vs Pearl Murphy And Theodore Murphy Research Paper
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Federal law governs the education of students with disabilities. Up until the 1960’s and 1970’s, educational programs for students with disabilities was left up to school districts to decide. Many children with disabilities were institutionalized, educated (or not) at home or put into private schools. Law suits and the demand for education for students with special needs in public schools were on the rise.
IDEA, Section 504 and ADA Explanations
IDEA was first passed by Congress in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. It was recognized that children with handicaps were not being given an appropriate education in many school districts. The law and the funding that accompanied it were a result of a lawsuit that created a state law in Washington. Four mothers advocated for education for children with disabilities and in 1970, Washington State passed the Washington HB 90 law which mandated education for children with special needs. This state law became the basis for the later federal law. The Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizen also brought a case against the state seeking equal educational services for retarded children. This case brought about the Rehabilitation Act in 1973 which prevented the exclusion of people with disabilities from any federally funded program.
The Education for All Handicapped Act was later strengthened, defined and gave focus to the individual needs of children with disabilities. This law was the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act passed in 1990. IDEA has been reauthorized twice in 1997 and 2004. The basic concepts addressed in IDEA are the definition of a child with a disability as: a child with an intellectual disability; hearing or visual impairment; speech and language impairments, sever emotional disturbance; orthopedic impairments; autism; learning disabilities and other health impairments. All children recognized with one of these disabilities is given and Individual Educational Plan, written by a team within the school or adults who are familiar with the child. IDEA also has provisions for related services which help the child access their education such as speech and language therapy and transportation. The child is guaranteed a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. Discipline is addressed so that disciplinary measures are not used to exclude a child for behaviors that are due to their disability. Parents are informed of and protected by procedural safeguards the outline the steps they can take if they do not agree with the placement or progress of their child. Transition Plans are also written for students ages 14 and up which outlines the plan for entering adult hood post-school.
In addition to school based services. IDEA provided early intervention and family support plans for toddlers and babies with disabilities. IDEA has also been aligned with No Child Left Behind which among other regulations, requires that students with disabilities are tested like their peers.
Section 504 is a part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It stipulates that all Americans are entitled to government services and cannot be excluded from services based on their disability. In education, Section 504 applies to students with disabilities who do not meet the criteria for IDEA. Examples of such are: children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder; children with specific diseases and other medical conditions. Section 504 eligibility is considered on a case by case basis. Section 504 also covers the inclusion of children with disabilities n extracurricular activities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. It prevents discrimination against people with disabilities. Its protections are similar to the Civil Rights Act. Disabilities protected under ADA can be physical and/or mental. They can be a permanent disability or temporary. The law also sets accessibility in public avenues such as stores and restaurants as well as accommodations in the workplace.
Cedar Rapids vs Garett F. was a case heard by the Supreme Court in 1998 and decided in March of 1999. The lawsuit brought by Garett F., who had been severely injured in a motorcycle accident. When he was four. His spinal cord was severed and he is now in a motorized wheelchair. His intelligence was unaffected by the accident and he is able to communicate and use a computer with a device that responds to head movements. He is also dependent on a ventilator which requires specialized care. The family covered the care with money from the settlement of the accident for four years but then sought the school’s assistance in providing the care instead. The school district contends that it is not required to provide one on one nursing care throughout the day for Garett.
The Supreme Court found in Garett F.’s favor. The school board under IDEA is required to provide the nursing services that Garett requires to fully access his education. The district had argued that its existing staff could not handle the extra responsibility and finances were a concern. The court discounted these concerns, the provisions set out in IDEA supersede these concerns.
Garett’s medical needs were not out of the ordinary in the medical field. It was a matter of having these services brought into the school. These services enabled Garett to full access his education and be successful. The court made the right decision in making the district provide these services to him.
was a case heard by the Supreme Court that addressed the issue of a parent using an expert in an educational case and whether the school district was required to pay for the expert. IDEA provides for attorney fees for parents but does not address the use of experts in a hearing. The parents had secured the services of an expert who assisted them throughout the development of the IEP and the court case. This person was not an attorney however. The court ruled that IDEA provides for attorney fees but not for experts. Therefore they found in favor of the school district.
This decision was critical in special education law. There are thousands of “experts” who can either be invaluable to a parent and special education student or are merely con artists. Legal fees provided by the government is appropriate and fair for parents who cannot pay for their own when they disagree with a school district. This rule is clearly stated in IDEA.
The Florence County School District vs Shannon Carter is a very interesting case. It was decided in 1993. The parent of Shannon maintained that Shannon was not receiving a fair and appropriate education in the public school. Shannon was withdrawn and placed in a private school where an appropriate education was obtained. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the parents and the school district had to reimburse them for the tuition incurred at the private school.
This case opened the door and confirmed placement in a private setting for students if the school district was not offering the appropriate education. This is an important aspect of IDEA. The individual education plan is developed and implemented with goals that both the parents and the professionals agree upon. Communication and effective strategies need to be implemented so that the student can achieve these goals. If the school cannot provide an education that will meet this end, the parent can seek out a private school.
Current laws and cases are rapidly changing and being more clearly defined. Parents of special needs students are becoming well informed and are generally highly motivated in obtaining the best possible education for their child. Sometimes these “best intentions” can go overboard. The role of the judicial system is to interpret IDEA, Section 504 and ADA for proper implementation. IDEA clearly provides for attorney fees and the reimbursement for tuition in a private school, if it is decided to be appropriate.
Since the enactment of IDEA, school districts have had to learn how to best provide a free and appropriate education for students with special needs and provide accessibility and accommodations for students that require them. The court system has defined for the school districts exactly what is meant by these terms. Whether it is building ramps to reach a classroom or providing nursing services for a child with a respirator.
As an educator, my legal interests involve those with children Autism. Because Autism is such a new field and children with Autism display such a wide variety of behaviors, it will be interesting to see how schools and districts integrate these children and provide them with a free and appropriate education. Parents of these children are generally well informed of their rights and are always seeking out the best therapies and interventions for their child. What interventions are sanctioned by IDEA and how the courts will interpret this will be interesting and informative to follow.
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