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United States Court of Appeals gives parents powerful tools to advocate for their child’s special education needs September 27, 2017

Downtown Boston, Boston
United States Court of Appeals gives parents powerful tools to advocate for their child’s special education needs, Boston, Massachusetts

We bring good news to parents who are fighting to make sure their disabled children receive the free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that federal law requires.  On September 13, 2017, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an Opinion in the case of R.E.B. ex rel. J.B. v. Department of Education, No. 14-15895, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 2017).  The court resolved at least four different special education issues in the Opinion.  First, the Opinion made clear that if the team of parents and educators who create an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for a student believe that the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teaching methodology is integral to an autistic child’s education, then the school district must discuss that issue during IEP meetings, and must write the requirement for the ABA teaching methodology into the student’s IEP.  Second, the court also held that school districts must design intersession programs and placements to meet every special education student’s individual needs, and cannot merely provide them with whatever summer school program the school has available.  The court emphasized that if a student needs summer school, school districts must specify the least restrictive environment (LRE) for the summer school program, and educate that child in that environment during the summer.  Third, the court held that during the academic year, the LRE must be defined by the IEP team after full parental participation, and may not delegate decisions of when the child will be mainstreamed and educated in that LRE to portions of the IEP team, who decide when the child will be mainstreamed, outside of the formal IEP formulation process and without parental input.  Fourth, the court held that if a change in placement is considered, the district must address a student’s transition needs during the IEP formulation process.  We believe that resolution of these issues makes the Opinion a landmark decision in the area of special education law, which contains powerful tools to help parents advocate for their disabled children.

Robert Badger filed the case 5 years ago as part of his attempts to make sure that his autistic son, who is now 11 years old, received the free and appropriate public education that is required by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.  The case now goes back to the federal district court to determine the remedies to compensate J.B. for the school district’s failure to provide a FAPE.

If you believe that your special needs child is not receiving an appropriate public education, then visit our website and call Bob Badger at (617) 963-3599, so that you can secure the educational services and supports that your child deserves.

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