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Portfolio Artifact #5 1

Education of Students with Disabilities

Amanda M. Burnside

College of Southern Nevada EDU 210

October 5th, 2019


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Does a high school principal have the authority to turn away a student with a disability

based on expenses and only her view? Debbie Young previously served as a special education

teacher and an assistant principal at an affluent school district in the South before becoming

principal at her current high school. Young was approached by the parents of Jonathan, a student

with multiple disabilities. They were requesting that he attend a school in Young’s district.

Jonathan is in tenth grade, he is mentally disabled, has spastic quadriplegia, and a seizure

disorder. He would require constant care by a specially trained nurse while attending school.

Young responds to Jonathans parents by declining their request based off the extraordinary

expenses to the district and her view that the school is not the most appropriate placement for

Jonathan. Is Young’s decision defensible or do Jonathan’s parents have rights for their son to

attend a school in the requested district?

In the court case of Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District

v. Rowley (1982) the courts ruled in favor of the school’s decision. Amy Rowley was a deaf

kindergarten student enrolled at a public school. Prior to her first year at the school her parents

met with administrators to determine what supplemental services would be necessary for her

education. At the start of the year Amy was provided with a sign-language interpreter. After the

first two weeks of the school year the interpreter reported that Amy was doing great and did not

feel that her services were needed. An IEP was created at that time, not including the interpreting

service, and Amy’s parents had objections to portions of the proposed IEP. They claimed that

without the interpreter that Amy would be denied educational opportunity. After the school took

the case to the Supreme Court the decision made by the first hearing was reversed and they
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declared the school was not required to provide Amy with the interpreter. The court rejected the

Section 504 standard and found that the education Amy was receiving meet the FAPE

requirements. The court recognized that “appropriate” does not mean “best” in this case. Relating

it to the case Young may have is that a school in her district may be the “best” in the eyes of

Jonathan’s parents, but would not be appropriate as written in IDEA.

Another court case which ruled in favor of the decision made by the school is

McLaughlin v. Holt Public Schools Board of Education (2003). Emma McLaughlin had been

diagnosed with down syndrome and was receiving special education services since the age of

two months. During a meeting regarding Emma’s IEP everyone involved agreed that she would

fully participate in the general education kindergarten setting, which was half day. It was also

decided that she would receive special education classroom support for the second half of the

day. The disagreement came in the type of classroom that Emma should be placed in for the

second half of the day. The school felt that a categorical classroom would best suit Emma’s

needs, while her parents pushed for the resource room that was available at their neighborhood

school. The main reason Emma’s parents were pushing for the resource room for the second half

of the day is that placement in a categorical classroom would me she would have to attend a

different school that was not in her neighborhood. The court determined that the categorical

classroom was where Emma would be most likely to meet the goals of her IEP and would thus

be placed at a school that was not her neighborhood school. The regulations of the act do not

mandate placement in a neighborhood school as the least restrictive environment. Like in

Young’s case, Jonathan’s educational needs might be better met at a school not within her

district.
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In the case of Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia (1972) the court ruled

in favor of the students with disabilities. This case is one that sparked a trend when it came to

states and school districts recognizing the rights of students with disabilities in a public education

environment. It was found that the school district in this case failed to fulfill their duty to provide

a publicly supported education for the “exceptional” students that were the plaintiffs in this case.

The students in this case had been excluded from a regular public-school environment and were

not given their right of due process based on the districts claim that they had insufficient funds to

support them. It was ordered that the District of Columbia will provide each child with a free and

suitable public education regardless of the degree of the child’s mental, physical, or emotional

disability or impairment. It was found that the defense of insufficient resources was not a valid

reason to exclude a student with a disability. Like in Jonathan’s case, Young’s excuse that having

Jonathan enrolled in her district would be an extraordinary expense would not be a valid reason

to exclude him from enrollment.

The case of Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret F. (1999) in another case

in which the court ruled in favor of the student. Garret was an elementary school student whose

mental capacities where unaffected in a motorcycle accident but left him as a quadriplegic.

Garret was ventilator dependent and required continuous one-on-one nursing services. Up until

fifth grade his parents had paid for his necessary medical services. At Garret’s entrance to fifth

grade his mother requested that the district accept the financial responsibility for his health care

needs. The district did not believe they were legally obligated and denied the request. Under

IDEA Garret’s mother requested a due process hearing where it was determined by the court that

nursing services would be considered a “related service” and under IDEA the district must be
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responsible to provide the funding. For Garret to remain at the school it was necessary for him to

receive these services. Comparing this case to Jonathan’s the district would be required to

provide an “related services” to enable him to receive an education at the enrolled school.

I believe that in the case of Jonathan, Young may have a defensible case. If her argument

does not focus on expenses and just on the most appropriate placement for Jonathan, her decision

may be valid. As we read in the case Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia (1972)

insufficient funds is not a good enough reason to not provide free appropriate education to a

student no matter their disability. If Young can show that Jonathan attending a school in her

district would not be where he would receive the most appropriate education, her decision may

stand up in a court hearing. As in the case McLaughlin v. Holt Public Schools Board of

Education (2003) it was decided that Emma could be sent to another school if it was more

appropriate in meeting the goals of her IEP. I believe that before making the decision that a

school in her district would not be the best placement for Jonathan and IEP should be written

laying out the goals and needs of the student. Only then can it be decided where Jonathan would

be able to receive the most appropriate and free public education available to him.
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