Current Legal issues facing K-12 schools: New Developments in Special Education Law and their Implications for Special Education Programs Council for Exceptional Children 36th Louisiana Super Conference on Special Education, January 31, 2017
Background • History • Training • Education Law Association • This is not legal advice, just a frameworkto help with decision-making
Future Policies – A look in the crystal ball • Justice Scalia’s absence • President Trump’s agenda • Secretary of Education Devos
Justice Scalia’s Conservative Approach to Education • 1. No to consideration of race in higher education and K-12 schools • Backed a low wall of separation between church and state • Favored school administrators over students and their rights
President Trump’s Agenda • 1. Immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion towards school choice. This will be done by reprioritizing existing federal dollars. • 2. Give states the option to allow these funds to follow the student to the public or private school they attend. Distribution of this grant will favor states that have private school choice, magnet schools and charter laws, encouraging them to participate. • 3. Rather than sending federal education dollars to schools, as the existing system does, Mr. Trump proposed giving block grants to states, which would have the option of letting the dollars follow students to whichever school they choose, including a charter, private or online school.
Education Secretary Devos’ agenda • 1. Leave many decisions to the States • 2. Support of Vouchers to enhance school choice • Support of Charter Schools to enhance school choice • Privatization of schools
Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 • What level of “Benefit” is required in Special Education? • Rowley – “Meaningful educational benefit” or “some educational benefit” • Child with autism – 10th Circuit decision from Colorado • Merely more than de minimis?
Wonder, the goldendoodle service Dog • Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools – 6th Circuit Michigan case • Girl with cerebral palsy wants to have service dog at school – do they have to exhaust procedures under IDEA before suing under ADA. • Education plan v. performance function • Personal Aide already paid for under IDEA
$1 Million dollar verdict • 5th Circuit decision Rideau v. Keller Independent School District • Mistreatment by special education teacher including physical abuse. Sued under Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act including mental pain and anguish • What does this mean for Special Education?
Beauchamp v. Anaheim Union High School Dist. (9th Cir. 2016) • Attorney Fee Awards • Sought $66,420 (hourly rate of $400) • Court awarded $7,780, why? • Outcome not more favorable to petitioner than the District’s settlement offer and petitioner was not substantially justified in rejecting the settlement offer.
Confidentiality • Supreme Court of Alabama (504 case) • Updated report for 12th grader with medical condition requiring special accomodations • Report placed in sealed envelopes and student worker was to deliver to each teacher but read report before doing so and told others • Plaintiff alleged ridicule, harassment and bullying resulted. Claimed negligent hiring, training and supervision.
A.G. V. Paradise Valley Unified Sch. Dist., No. 13-16239 (9th Cir. 2016) • Multiple claims under 504, ADA and tort including IDEA • Alleged District physically escorted and restrained AG when she was not a danger to herself or others despite knowing of her tactile sensitivity. • Assault, battery, false imprisonment and infliction of emotional distress.
Restraint • Student with autism • Disrupted class, ran away from staff, kicked social worker and kicked and shot rubber bands at security officer (what do you want to know?) • Security Officer handcuffed student to chair after calling parent and obtaining permission to restrain him and warning him to calm down. • Security officer not aware of disability
Outsourcing Education or services • Kucera v. Jefferson County Board of Commissioners (6th Cir.) • Tennessee district used private Christian school as its alternative education provider for students with disciplinary problems. • Court found that the public school students were served in a day program that offered secular instruction and only minimal exposure to religion, and thus the arrangement did not violate the establishment clause. Implications? • For more come back at 12:30 in the Gospel Room!
Contact Information • Nathan M. Roberts, J.D., Ph.D. • Dean, College of Education • University of Louisiana at Lafayette • (337) 482-1026 • firstname.lastname@example.org