Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Incarcerated Students and Special Ed Law- Part I #IncarceratedStudents

As the weekly question has hinted, this blog is interested in the current hot button topic of incarcerated students and special education. This is an area that has seen an explosion of cases in the last year or so. It is coming up a lot these days.

So what rights do students with disabilities have if they commit a crime or if they are accused of a crime? What is the relationship between an arrest or a trip to juvenile hall and a school district's child find obligation? Which public agency is responsible for providing FAPE? What about the school to prison pipeline?

Finally that pesky weekly question can a student who is convicted of a crime be too bad to be entitled to FAPE? Believe it or not I even have a case about that topic.

As always, we are interested in what you think. Have you heard of cases on this topic in your area? What are your thoughts? What comments would you share?

More on this series is coming soon.


  1. If a student is identified as having a disability before he or she is incarcerated, by law, they are entitled to a free and appropriate education. I feel that providing a quality education will help these students avoid further arrests.

  2. I agree with the above statement. If the student already has an IEP in place, can services be denied under the law? I have not heard of cases on this topic in my area, but I would be interesting to hear about your case. I have conducted some research on incarcerated juveniles and it seems the prison system doesn't provide FAPE like a school district would. I wonder how many incarcerated juveniles who go in without an IEP are identified and receive the special education services they need.

    1. As a special education instructor in a correctional facility in the state of Iowa, I can only tell you our practices are to provide services to all students wishing to accept services within the guidelines of the IEP. Students under 21 are identified and interviewed, once a student is incarcerated, they become the 'adult' on the file and therefore have the right to refuse services. If they choose to accept services, they are placed with a special education instructor who will work with them on their goals and academics. In Iowa the form for a equivalency diploma is the HiSET, students either work toward that designation or, if they have few credits remaining toward a high school diploma issued through their home district and the district is willing, we can work to complete the diploma program needs. I have had both. As mkirc responded, I would like to think I am making a difference.

  3. mkirc, Anon & Anon,

    Thank you for your comments.