Do we have to transport the transfer student who has an IEP?

Minnesota has open enrollment among its school districts.  This case involved a parent who chose to enroll the child in a district other than the district of residence.  The student required special education services and the IEP called for special transportation. Does the non-resident district have to provide that?  The court held that it did not.  The court pointed out that IDEA was enacted pursuant to the Spending Clause in the Constitution.  Congress has no direct authority regarding public education, and so it can impose restrictions only by making money available, subject to conditions.  That’s how the Spending Clause works, and IDEA is a classic example of that.  Congress made money available (not enough) and attached regulations to it sufficient to choke a dozen lawyers.  Minnesota, like all of the other states, took the money. 

The deal about “Spending Clause” statutes is that their requirements must be stated unambiguously.  Does the IDEA specifically say that non-resident districts that accept transfer students must provide special transportation?  No.  It does not say anything like that. Key Quote:

We see nothing in the IDEA that provides clear notice to a state that it must cover transportation expenses when a student’s travel is the result of a parent’s choice under an open enrollment program.

This is not a binding legal precedent in Texas, but it’s a Circuit Court case which will carry considerable weight as Texas judges consider this issue.  It’s Osseo Area Schools, ISD No. 279 v. M.N.B., decided by the 8th Circuit on July 29, 2020.  We found it on Special Ed Connection at 77 IDELR 1.