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Monday, January 9, 2012

"Child-Find" Court Case

At Education Week, Mark Walsh reports:
In the special education case, Compton Unified School District v. Addison (Case No. 10-886), the justices had asked the U.S. solicitor general's office for its views last April on a question under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: whether a parent may bring a claim in a due-process hearing that a district violated the law's "child-find" provision.
That provision requires that all children with disabilities who are in need of special education services be identified, located, and evaluated.
The Compton, Calif., district appealed lower court rulings that a mother had a valid legal claim under the IDEA that the district had failed to identify her daughter's disabilities.
According to court papers, when the student was in 10th grade, her teachers became concerned that her work was "gibberish and incomprehensible" and that she had failed every class. The school district referred the girl to a mental health counselor, who recommended that the student be evaluated for learning disabilities. The district did not follow the recommendation, and it promoted the girl to the 11th grade.
The mother later made a request for an individualized education program for her daughter, and the district determined that the girl was eligible for special education services for a learning disability.
The mother brought an administrative claim under the IDEA, arguing that the school district failed under the law's "child-find" requirement to identify the girl's disabilities sooner. An administrative law judge largely sided with the family, ordering as much as 150 hours of compensatory tutoring for the girl's lost educational opportunities.
In a brief filed Nov. 18, U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. had told the court it should not take up the school district's appeal because, among other reasons, the Compton district was mistaken to argue that the child-find provision covers only a school district's refusal to act to identify eligible children, not its failure to act.
The justices declined the school district's appeal without comment on Jan. 9.