The New Case Before the Supreme Court - Part I

The U. S. Supreme Court has accepted Forrest Grove School District v. T.A. The issue once again is whether a student must first be enrolled in a public school and be receiving special education services before the parents may be awarded reimbursement for a unilateral private placement.

The facts of the case are as follows: The student had been enrolled in the public school from kindergarten until he was a junior in high school. He had difficulty paying attention in class, but he successfully passed from grade to grade. He never received special education and related services from the school district.

He was evaluated for special education by the district only once when his guidance counselor suspected in 2001 that he might have a learning disability. During the evaluation process, the district staff noted that they suspected that the student may have ADHD, but they never informed his parents of the suspicion. The evaluation team found that the student did not have a learning disability and found him to be ineligible for special education.

In 2002, the student began using marijuana. In 2003 he ran away from home. The parents then took him to see a psychologist who diagnosed ADHD, depression, math disorder and cannabis abuse.

The parents then withdrew the student from public school in March 2003 and enrolled him in a Wilderness Therapy Expedition for a few weeks. (I don't think that they had widlerness therapy when I was in school!) Thereafter, he was enrolled in Mount Bachelor Academy. a private residential school for children with academic, behavioral or motivational problems.

After a month, the parents filed for due process, but the hearing officer continued the matter to permit the school district to again evaluate the student. In July 2003, the multi-disciplinary team determined that the student had ADHD and depression, but was nonetheless not eligible for special education because his disabilities did not have a severe effect upon his educational performance.

More on the court rulings and our analysis as to what the Supremes may do with this case in subsequent posts.

Please take note of the new poll on the left hand-side of the blog. Cast your vote for how this case should be decided by the U S Supreme Court. Remember our polls may be fun but they are not science! here's your chance to vote.