When a student transfers to the district during the school year with an IEP, the IDEA provides rules for providing services to the student. If a student moves during the summer, the IDEA is silent, other than the general rule that an IEP must be in effect for all eligible students on the first day of school. The Texas regulations provide timelines to adopt or create a new IEP for transfer students, and revised regulations in effect starting this school year provide additional details and shorten some of those timelines. The requirements can seem a bit confusing because they vary depending on whether the student is transferring intrastate or interstate and during the school year or summer. We have summarized the requirements for you in the chart below.
Phew! It’s the day after graduation, and your school district is finally off the hook for a potential state complaint you have been fearing the legal guardian of a student with disabilities would file against the district for months. Not so fast! On March 30, 2023, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) (part of the U.S. Department of Education) released a policy letter relating to the rights of students who have graduated. Letter to Oettinger, which is dated March 2, 2023, addresses the following issues:
(1) Must a State Educational Agency (SEA) resolve a complaint if the child who is the subject of the complaint has graduated?
(2) Must an SEA resolve a complaint that alleges systemic noncompliance based on facts related to a child who has graduated?
Today, we continue a series of articles focused on the components of a great IEP. We previously posted about the importance of and tips for successful IEP implementation, progress monitoring, and the statement of PLAAFP. In this post, we will cover the annual statement of goals, which is another critical component of the IEP. Like the statement of PLAAFP, the statement of annual goals is an outcome determinative element of the IEP, meaning it can be the reason a hearing officer finds the district did or did not offer FAPE. Keep reading to understand what is required and how to ensure every IEP includes an effective and compliant statement of annual goals.
The Supreme Court Finds IDEA Exhaustion Not Required When Parents Seek Money Damages Under ADA and Section 504
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held today that plaintiffs may file federal lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 seeking money damages without first exhausting the IDEA administrative procedures, even when the underlying dispute is the student’s special education programming. As we previewed in a post following the oral argument, this decision is a departure from current Fifth Circuit law and opens the door to parents filing federal lawsuits seeking monetary relief in special education disputes without filing for due process under the IDEA. As explained below, whether this path is truly advantageous for parents is uncertain.
Research shows that students of color, boys, and students with disabilities are more likely to experience disciplinary removals than their peers. Indeed, black students with disabilities are more than twice as likely as peers to be suspended out of school or expelled, and the rates in Texas are even higher. Exclusionary discipline means missed instructional time and is associated with an increased likelihood of dropping out of school and interaction with the criminal justice system. These disparities are troubling both for student outcomes and for district legal liability.
This summer, we posted about comprehensive guidance on discipline and students with disabilities from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS). We continue to anticipate guidance from the Department of Education and Department of Justice related to student discipline and race under Title VI. In the meantime, we want to talk about the intersection of disability and race: significant disproportionality.
On Wednesday, January 18, 2023, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, a case out of Michigan (Sixth Circuit) involving the administrative exhaustion doctrine under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) Before the Court were two important issues: (1) whether parents can avoid having to exhaust their administrative remedies under the IDEA (by filing for and litigating a due process hearing) by asking for monetary damages in a lawsuit brought under a different statute (such as Section 504 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”)); and (2) whether settling a due process hearing constitutes “exhaustion” of the administrative process, such that parents who have settled with the school could then file a subsequent Section 504 or ADA lawsuit. Some of these issues – particularly whether asking for monetary damages essentially negates the exhaustion requirement – were left over from the Court’s previous exhaustion decision in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools.