Friday, April 15, 2016

Incarcerated Students and Special Ed Law- Part III #IncarceratedStudents

Incarcerated students is one of the hottest issues in special education law. There has been a lot of recent activity concerning the special education rights of students who have had a brush with the criminal law- being arrested or accused of a crime; spending time in juvenile hall or even being incarcerated.

One question involves whether the school district has any duty to evaluate a student who returns from juvenile hall. Does that trigger a child find duty? If the student is already on an IEP, does the team need to meet and discuss the student's needs?

In Meridian Joint Sch Dist No. 2 v. DA ex rel MA 792 F.3d 1054, 65 IDELR 253 (Ninth Cir. 7/6/15), the Ninth Circuit affirmed  hearing officer  and lower court finding that parents were entitled to an independent educational evaluation at public expense due to SD failure to evaluate the student after his release from a juvenile facility.
So what do you think. Should a trip to juvenile hall require an evaluation? When is the child find duty triggered? Is a brush with the law something that an IEP team should watch carefully?


  1. Absolutely. If fact, these are the same kids who should have been evaluated by the educational system years before they got involved with the judicial system to begin with, but weren't.

    We have all heard about the high number of adult prisoners who are suspected of having undiagnosed learning disabilities, ASD, etc.

    The newest research suggests that the human brain isn't done "maturing" until the early 30s, not the early 20s, as previously thought.*

    *(Frances Jensen, chair of the department of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and was formally a Harvard professor and director of translational neuroscience at Boston Children's Hospital, and author of "The Teenage Brain")

    Anyone familiar with the students who becomes depressed, angry, and hopeless as they repeatedly failed at school; who are called stupid and lazy, and believe it; who give up, drop out, and find themselves with little prospect of getting a "real job"; are never surprised when they end up in trouble and in jail.

    But, I'll take the evaluation idea one step further. Instead of wasting all the money on the yearly testing that has proved nothing except we know teachers can teach to a test, we should be evaluating all children when they enter school, and every three years after that, or sooner when there are indications that there might be an issues.

    Then we might actual find the kids who need help early enough to save them from failing in school, and in life.

    1. Kathy,

      Thank you for your comment.


  2. If an incarcerated student has no parent/guardian, who is responsible when conducting the IEP?