Friday, October 12, 2007

Split Court

The Supreme Court split on a court case in New York. The focus of the case was, in brief, are parents required to try out a demonstrably inappropriate IEP before challenging it?

Note the words: demonstrably inappropriate.

And the court split.

I am so angry I could spit.

It's not just a matter of not giving the public school a chance. This is about the school offering an inappropriate program, and then telling you if you don't like it, sue us.

The point of the IDEA is to provide free and appropriate education. As in, knowing that your program is inappropriate means you need to make some changes and adjustments or even create a new program so the child can get an appropriate education. As in, not offering appropriate service means a child will not have a chance to be properly educated and have a shot at independent living.

When a school offers an IEP, it is supposed to take the parent as an equal member of the forming committee. It is far more comon that they present what services they want to offer your kid, and you have to decide to take it, leave it, or threaten to sue (which can lead to actually suing). Often, parents are not told about services that would be appropriate for their child (even if the services are being provided to other students!)

The problem is the school is given both the responsibility for providing services AND the responsibility to remain within small budgets. Everyone who has the power to provide the service also has the pressure of the purse strings. And folks, those people know who signs the paychecks, and parents are not that person. We can scream "taxpayer, paying your salary!" all we want, but ultimately, it is not our name on that check, but the name of a person pressured to spend as little money as possible. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ABA, floor time, one-on-one instruction and testing... and anything else you can think of... costs money. It is far cheaper to not offer these things, and to get away with not offering them if you can. The chances of that parent suing, and winning, are so not good that it is worth a chance to offer services known to be inappropriate, inadequate... and cheap.

When you can demonstrate that an IEP is inappropriate, why should your child be subjected to that known inappropriate placement? I don't care if the kid has "time to waste" or not (does ANY child have "time to waste" in education??? Life is short!). Our money pays for that inappropriate service and placement- and therefore wastes our money! It wastes time of the teachers, the service providers, the admin, the lawyers, the parents... it wastes resources that could be appropriate for another child.

How on earth can anoyone be split on this?? How can you think it is in any way the right thing to subject a child to inappropriate program and service? How can anyone possibly think the law is intended to force kids to "try out" a demonstrably inappropriate placement?

That, folks, is how kids get abused.


Club 166 said...

...The justices split 4-4 on the case, which means a lower court ruling siding with former Viacom executive Tom Freston remains in place. ...

In a split decision, the lower court decision stands. Which means that this was a win for NOT requiring students to "try out" a bad IEP before pursuing alternative placement. Sure, it would be nicer to have a unanimous decision in our favor, but a win is a win.

Together with the decision earlier this year, where parents are not REQUIRED to hire a lawyer to pursue a case against the district, I think all in all it's been a pretty good case in the courts for those of us with kids in special ed.


Club 166 said...'s been a pretty good case in the courts ...

Oops! Meant to say it's been a pretty good year in the courts

Joeymom said...

Yes, it was technically a win... a wonder how Kennedy would have voted?

Close wins are tenuous, and there should be no "tenuous" in a case like this. One breath away from have to "try out" a demonstrably inappropriate program... that's not a good sign for how our kids are viewed by the courts.

I'll take a win. But I'd prefer to have folks understand why KNOWN inappropriate placements are completely ridiculous.

Stimey said...

Speak it, sister. It's crazy that some justices would vote that way. Frightening.

Club 166 said...

Ah, I spoke too soon. I read an earlier account today, and thought that the tie was a clear (precedent setting) win. Not so.

...The favorable decision on behalf of the parents and child stands for families who live in the Second Circuit - Connecticut, New York, and Vermont.

However, the failure of the Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling on this issue means that the case has no precedential value beyond the 2nd Circuit. The decision is, in essence, a nullity, i.e., the case never went beyond the 2nd Circuit.

So, the case has precedent setting standing only for the 2nd US Circuit Court-New York, Vermont, and Connecticut, not for anyone anywhere else.


Grandma said...

Yes, the news did explain that this was at least a temporary win for parents, even if in a limited area. Praises for even small victories!

My granddaughter will be 11 next week and has had nothing but difficulties with the local school district NOT following their own rules on the IEPs. (Mom has been on the school board for the past 3 years - trying to have the district comply for all the special needs children in addition to regular duties; she can't try to push her own child's needs from that position.) The superintendent and the major supervisor of special programs don't even have children and no understanding at all. On the first day of school I believe 2 years ago, the behaviorist was in the classroom and even though the IEP said if the child "screamed" it was not to continue more than a few seconds, this behaviorist allowed her to scream for 15 minutes! My daughter forbade that person to ever have contact with my granddaughter again. I'd be glad to put my daughter in touch with you if you would go to this web site, (just copy into your url) where you will find my secondary email address.

Our granddaughter is also a "water lover" and loves music. She is a high functioning autistic. May God give all parents special strength, with particular grace for parents of autistic children.

My daughter has "fought the good fight" for her daughter ever since she was diagnosed at 3-1/2 (late because she was a twin and the doctors refused to test earlier.)