In the previous posts in this series we have looked at the sources of special education law and discussed the critical concept of FAPE. Today we look at some important decisions by U. S. Courts of Appeal taking FAPE in some new directions:
In Deal v. Hamilton County 392 F.3d 840, 42 IDELR 109 (6th Cir. 1//16/04), the Sixth Circuit held that where the school district had already predetermined the student’s program and services before the IEP Team meeting, the parents were denied the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the IEP process. Accordingly, the district denied FAPE for the student.
In Shore Regional High Sch. Bd. of Educ. v. P.S. 381 F.3d 194, 41 IDELR 234 (3d Cir. 8/30/04), the Third Circuit held that a school district’s failure to stop bullying may constitute a denial of FAPE. Despite repeated complaints by the parents the bullying continued; the student became depressed and the school district developed an IEP. The harassment continued and the student attempted suicide. The Third Circuit agreed with the hearing officer that the unabated harassment and bullying made it impossible for the student to receive FAPE.
In Lillbask ex rel Mauclaire v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Educ. 397 F.3d 77, 42 IDELR 230 (2d Cir. 2/2/05), the Second Circuit ruled that an IDEA hearing officer has the authority to review IEP safety concerns. The court provided an expansive interpretation of the jurisdiction of the hearing officer, ruling that Congress intended the hearing officer to have authority over any subject matter that could involve a denial of or interference with a student’s