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ESE504 : The Class : Advanced CD : Court cases

Important Court Cases in Special Education

There are many court cases that helped define our current educational landscape. The following is a listing of some of the cases that have resulted in key Supreme Court decisions.

Brown vs. Board of Education 1954 Integration of students  
PARC vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 1972 FAPE Free appropriate public education  
Stuart vs. Nappi 1978 Student could stay in school despite bad behavior  
Armstrong vs. Kline 1979 Extended school year  
Hendrick Hudson School vs. Rowley 1982 Students have a right to an individual, personal plan - contested IDEA and lost  
Abrahamson vs. Hershman 1983 If residential placement is required, school district must provide it  
Dept of Ed. vs. Katherine D 1984 Home bound is not LRE [Least Restrictive Environment]  
Irving Indep. School District vs. Tatro 1984 Physical and health impairments may not prevent being served in public school  
Smith vs. Robinson 1984 School must pay for necessary residential placements  
Cleburne vs. Cleburne Living Center 1985 Cannot zone group homes out of neighborhoods  
Burlington School Committee vs. DOE 1985 District may have to pay for private placement, even when the parents go against district advice if the placement meets the student's need and the IEP in the district did not  
Timothy W. vs. Rochester School 1988 Zero rejection  
Honig vs. Doe 1988 Children with disabilities may not be excluded from school for misbehavior  
Danny R. R. vs. State Board of Ed. 1989 Least Restrictive Environment - FAPE means student has right, to inclusion to the maximum extent possible  
Zobrest vs Catalina School District 1993 District may pay for student services if needed even when the student attends a parochial school without violating separation of church and state  
Florence County School District vs. Carter 1993 If schools do not provide appropriate services and a private school does, the district may have to pay, even if they did not approve the placement and parents acted unilaterally  
Board of Education in Sacramento, CA vs. Holland 1994 Least Restrictive Environment - Four factors, including the needs of all children in the school, that must be considered for FAPE  
Cases regarding Assessment


Hobson vs. Hansen 1967-8 Track system based on IQ testing is unconstitutional - discriminates against poor children and Arfo-American students  
Diana vs State Board of Ed. 1970 Non biased Assessments in child's native language  
Tinker vs. Des Moines 1970 Constitutional rights of children  
Covarrubias vs. SanDiego USD 1971 Monetary damages paid due to misclassifying Mexican Americans as disabled  
Mills vs. Board of Education 1972 Must provide services regardless of district's ability to pay  
Larry P vs. Riles 1979 IQ test may not be sole assessment - over placement of minority students in SPED  
Mattie T. vs. Holladay (Mississippi) 1979 State must revamp assessment to be fair to minority students and assess in timely fashion


Luke S. & Han S. vs. Nix, 1981 Assessments must be timely  


Provisions for Assessment in PL94-142

1. Tests are to be selected and administered so as to be racially and culturally nondiscriminatory

2. To the extent feasible, students are to be assessed in their native language language or primary mode of communication (such as American Sign Language and communication board.)

3. Tests must have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used.

4. Tests must be administered by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by the test producers.

5. Tests used with students must include those designed to provide information about specific educational needs, and not just a general intelligence quotient.

6. Decisions about students are to be based on more than their performance on a single test.

7. Evaluations are to be made by a multidisciplinary team that includes at lease one teacher or other specialist with knowledge in the are of suspected disability.

8. Children must be assessed in all areas related to a specific disability, including - where appropriate -- health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative skills and motor skills.

What's been happening since these cases? Do you know how to locate new case law? Do you know if there are any challenges to IDEA 97? Why not do some surfing to see what is out there?

Personal Notes

Arizona Legislative news

Legal issues in special education

Summary of court cases by major principles of IDEA

Children's Rights Council

Findlaw site

Rights of the child - UN

Children's rights advocates - ARC

Votesmart site



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Course developed by J'Anne Ellsworth


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