X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Administrative/Government Law Click here for the full text of this decision Neither the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act nor state law prevents Ascension from selecting the centralized school site for the implementation of the student’s individualized education program, notwithstanding parental input to the contrary. FACTS: For this interlocutory appeal from injunctive and other relief awarded parents of a child, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. sec. 1400, primarily at issue is whether, consistent with the IDEA, a school system has the right to select a centralized location for providing services to a hearing-impaired child, notwithstanding the child’s parents’ request that services be provided instead at his neighborhood school (site-selection issue). Dylan White (Dylan), a hearing-impaired student, identified and qualified under the IDEA as disabled, attends school in Ascension Parish, La. Under the IDEA, he is qualified for special education and related services by Ascension Parish Schools (Ascension). HOLDING: The summary judgment and concomitant order granting the injunction and other relief are vacated; judgment is rendered for defendants on the site-selection issue; and the matter is remanded. For this 28 U.S.C. sec. 1292(a)(1) interlocutory appeal from injunctive relief, Ascension insists it fully complied with the IDEA. The Whites respond that the act was violated because they were not allowed input into the site determination and, in any event, the IDEA contemplates neighborhood school site selection. They also maintain that Dylan’s placement at the centralized school violates state law. When an action is brought under the IDEA, or the appropriateness of an IEP challenged, the inquiry is two-fold: 1. whether “the [IEP] developed through the Act’s procedures [is] reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits”; and 2. whether the school district has “complied with the procedures set forth in the [IDEA]“. Board of Educ. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982). “If these requirements are met, the state has complied with the obligations imposed by Congress and the courts can require no more.” A primary purpose of the IDEA is to ensure that disabled children receive a “free appropriate public education.” 20 U.S.C. sec. 1412(a). According to Rowley, “[a] school satisfies that requirement “by providing personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit the child to benefit educationally from that instruction. Such instruction and services must be provided at public expense, must meet the State’s educational standards, must approximate the grade levels used in the State’s regular education, and must comport with the child’s IEP. In addition, the IEP, and therefore the personalized instruction, should be formulated in accordance with the requirements of the Act and . . . should be reasonably calculated to enable the child to achieve passing marks and advance from grade to grade.” The focus of the inquiry is on academic achievement; and, while the IDEA requires the school to provide services to allow the child the requisite basic floor of opportunity, it does not require the school to make special accommodations at the parent’s request (no matter how well intentioned), particularly where the request is not related to helping the child achieve academicpotential. As noted, it is undisputed that Dylan was succeeding academically at the centralized school; thus, his IEP clearly met the requirements of FAPE. It is also undisputed that the parents’ request that Dylan attend his neighborhood school was primarily social they wanted him to be able to attend school with other neighborhood children; this concern is beyond the scope of the “educational benefit” inquiry courts make under the IDEA. Even assuming arguendothat the implementing regulations contemplate a parental right to provide input into the location of services, the facts are undisputed that the Whites did so as part of the IEP team that discussed location at length and that ultimately selected the centralized site. To accept the Whites’ view of “input” would grant parents a veto power over IEP teams’ site selection decisions. Congress could have included that power in the IDEA; it did notdo so. The right to provide meaningful input is simply not the right to dictate an outcome and obviously cannot be measured by such. Absent any evidence of bad faith exclusion of the parents or refusal to listen to or consider the Whites’ input, Ascension met IDEA requirements with respect to parental input. On this record, Ascension complied with this procedural component. All the circuit courts that have addressed the issue agree that, for provision of services to an IDEA student, a school system may designate a school other than a neighborhood school. Restated, no federal appellate court has recognized a right to a neighborhood school assignment under the IDEA. Administrative agency interpretations of the regulations confirm that the school has significant authority to select the school site, as long as it is educationally appropriate. Ascension has proffered numerous, sound reasons for its centralization policy, including: 1. ability to cover absences and scheduling difficulties; 2. training and staff development; 3. effective use of limited resources; and 4. educational and social advantages. Concerning Dylan’s placement, it notes: 1. while Dylan is the only student now served by the transliterator, another student needing to share the transliterator could move into the district; and 2. making an exception to the centralization policy for Dylan would not be fair to other students who share transliterators and must attend the centralized school. Neither the IDEA nor state law prevents Ascension from selecting the centralized school site for the implementation of Dylan’s IEP, notwithstanding parental input to the contrary. OPINION: Barksdale, J.; Jolly, Wiener and Barksdale, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.