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Supreme Court To Decide Who Must Prove Special Education Positions
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 18, 2005

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND--On February 22, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case that could effect disputes between parents and schools over special education around the country.

At issue is whether it is up to parents to prove that a school has not provided an adequate education plan for a child with a disability, or whether the schools must prove that they have done so.

The case involves Jocelyn and Martin Schaffer, who requested in 1998 that their son Brian, then a 7th grader, receive special education services at Herbert Hoover Middle School in Rockville, Maryland. The parents rejected two Individualized Education Programs the district proposed, claiming that the school system did not provide a free, appropriate public education for Brian as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Schaffers placed their son in a private school and went to court asking Montgomery County Public Schools to reimburse them for the cost of tuition.

Because the IDEA does not specifically address the issue, judges in federal and state courts have come down on opposite sides. Last July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled for Montgomery County in this case.

If the high court rules against the Schaffers this fall, it could embolden more parents to challenge schools on the special education services they provide to students with disabilities. Education officials argue that a judgment for the parents could cost schools millions of dollars to defend their positions.

"Dispute over special ed goes to Supreme Court" (The Gazette)
"Special Ed Battles" (Washington Post)


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