Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bullying of Kids With Disabilities - Part I

English: this is my own version of what bullyi...
English: this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are repeating our very popular series on bullying of children with disabilities.  This was one of our best received series, and bullying remains the hot button issue in special education law.  We will include some updates and news.  Please enjoy the series and send us any feedback!

Bullying is a real problem in our society.  Bullies often take advantage of those whom they perceive as weaker.  The Columbine tragedy brought the problem to a higher level of public awareness, but the problem persists.

Kids with disabilities are often singled out by bullies.  This has become one of the hottest of hot button issues in special education law.  Several laws could be implicated, but my focus here will be upon whether bullying can constitute a violation of IDEA.

In the next installments, I'll discuss a well-reasoned recent decision, but first some background on the legal foundations for this analysis:

In the seminal decision by the Third Circuit in Shore Regional High Sch. Bd. of Educ. v. P.S. 381 F.3d 194, 41 IDELR 234 (3d Cir. 8/30/2004) recognized that bullying could prevent educational benefit, and a school district’s failure to respond could constitute a denial of FAPE.  See also, Gagliardo v. Arlington Central Sch Dist 489 F.3d 105, 48 IDELR 1 (2d Cir. 5/30/2007).

          Shortly, thereafter the Second Circuit ruled that a student with a disability cannot receive educational benefit or FAPE if he is not in a safe environment.  Lillbask ex rel Mauclaire v. State of Connecticut Dept. of Educ.  397 F.3d 77, 42 IDELR 230 (2d Cir. 2/2/2005).  

           These cases provide the analytical foundation.  

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  1. Hello Jim,
    I am a first time reader. I wanted to thank you for blogging about such an important topic, bullying. I appreciated your links to the related articles, as well as the information on the legal cases. I look forward to reading this series and future updates on your blog.

    1. Stacey,

      Thanks for your comment. I hope that you enjoy the series.

      Also please consider taking one of the free subscriptions to this blog which are available on the lefthand side of the blog.


  2. Hi Jim, thank you for the article. Students in special education seem to be more vulnerable. Its hard to focus on studying if you have to worry about your safety. I just hadn't thought of FAPE and IDEA violations from bullying.

  3. This topic is very important as I see it in my classrooms every day. Students gang up on other students, maybe not physically, but emotionally. The "weaker" students do not fight back, either because they are scared, or they are more mature -- I've seen both. It is difficult to fight for students when I don't see/hear everything that goes on in the class. I don't want to blame students if they are innocent, but I also need and want to protect the students who are bullied. Awareness of this topic and ways to combat it are appreciated!!


    1. Liz,

      Thanks for your comment. This is an important issue!