Friday, February 10, 2012

Bullying of Kids With Disabilities - Part II

English: A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Be...Image via Wikipedia
Bullying remains a hot button issue in special education law. This is the second post in the current series on this topic.  Last week I discussed some of the key cases finding that bullying of children with disabilities can be a violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (or IDEA as we often refer to it here.)  With that analytical basis, we now turn to a more recent court decision.

The opinion in TK & SK ex rel LK v. New York City Dept of Educ 56 IDELR 228 (E.D.N.Y. 4/25/2011) is a must read.The case involves a twelve year old girl with a specific learning disability. Her peers ostracized her, pushed her and ridiculed her daily.  They refused to touch any item that she had touched.  Yes kids can be very cruel.

The Court held that when facing a situation in which a child with a disability is allegedly being bullied, a school district must take prompt and appropriate action including making an investigation and taking steps to prevent future abuse. In this case, the Court found that the district did nothing despite parent requests to discuss the problem.  The Court held that where the educational benefit to the student was adversely affected by the bullying, FAPE had been denied. The Court awarded reimbursement to the parents for the tuition of the private school in which they had unilaterally placed the student.

In the next posts on this issue, I will quote some of the literature on bullying in America that was relied upon by the court in this case.  You can review the entire opinion here.
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  1. I think that bullying is a big problem when it comes to students with disabilities. I know just the other day in one of my classes at college another student who was learning about being a teacher said that she felt it wasn't important to teach understanding to students, and that they would learn on their own. I feel that this isn't true, if we don't teach understanding, aren't we part of the problem with bullying?

  2. Natalie,

    Thanks for your comment.


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