The SCOTUS case that can help Special Ed parents

Time and again, parents of Special Education students submit heartbreaking stories of abuse and neglect at the hands of Clear Creek ISD to us, and we’re powerless to stop this. We can’t force CCISD to provide services, to respond to parents in a timely fashion, and to protect arguably the most vulnerable students in the district.

But there is a very important U.S. Supreme Court case that Special Education parents need to know about: Forest Grove School Dist. v. T.A., 557 U.S. 230, 129 S.Ct. 2484 (2009). In this decision, the Supreme Court held that parents of disabled children can seek reimbursement for private education expenses regardless of whether their child had previously received special education services from a public school. If a public school fails to make a free, appropriate public education available to a disabled child, yes, they have to reimburse parents for private education, including private school tuition.

Technically, that means that, if CCISD fails to provide services, Special Education parents can sue CCISD to reimburse them for services they have to seek elsewhere.

Let that sink in for a minute. You can sue for reimbursement.

Currently, we know of at least one case of a child waiting for services for dyslexia because the child is already in Special Education, and the dyslexia testing was not completed by CCISD staff. Special Education staff will not return the parent’s phone calls or emails. Should that parent pull the child from CCISD and send the child to a private school, CCISD would have to reimburse the parent for the private school tuition because they are failing to make a free, appropriate education available to this child.

Another parent reports that they have pulled their autistic child from CCISD because the school this child would have attended was ill-equipped to provide services to him. This would have been the second CCISD school that has failed this child. Rather than put up with the complete ineptitude of CCISD (which somehow let the child wander off campus!), this parent wisely enrolled the child in a private school. The parent writes:

He is a completely different kiddo. …He went from sad and wanted to harm himself, to happy and thriving in school and with his work.

We wish these were isolated incidents, but they are not. Not even this story has a happy ending: the child’s new school says he is traumatized from being restrained and abused while enrolled in CCISD schools. Parents are at their wits’ end with the bullying, harassment, and ineptitude of CCISD, which is repeatedly violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C.A. § 1400.

Parents, you have options under IDEA and Forest Grove School Dist. v. T.A. You are not limited to what the Texas Education Agency can do. If CCISD fails to provide services to your child, and you get stuck in the never-ending TEA loop, seek the advice of an attorney. Heck, send a copy of the SCOTUS case to all the so-called leadership that are in charge of curriculum and our students’ classroom learning at CCISD when you’re trying to get them to pay attention:

  • Dr. Greg Smith, grsmith@ccisd.net
  • Dr. Steven Ebell, sebell@ccisd.net
  • Holly Hughes, hhughes@ccisd.net
  • Dr. Karen Engle, kengle@ccisd.net

And just for fun, let’s see if CCISD’s general counsel, Leila Sarmecanic, knows about this decision: lsarmecanic@ccisd.net.

We’d tell you to email the school board, too, but based on past treatment of Special Education students, it’s likely that only one Board member actually would care.

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