WE’RE ZOOMING TODAY!! HOPE YOU CAN JOIN ME AND JAMESON BAKER AT 10:00 FOR A DISCUSSION OF SOME OF THE MORE IMPORTANT NEW LAWS THAT ARE GOING INTO EFFECT. SEE YOU AT 10!
What Happened in Salt Lake City? The district policy was to provide services to students with cognitive disabilities at certain “hub” schools, rather than the neighborhood school. Two parents and the statewide advocacy organization sued, claiming that the district was not individualizing its placement decisions and that the hub policy deprived students of the right to be served in the neighborhood school. The school district sought dismissal of the case and challenged the standing of the plaintiffs to bring the case.
What Did the Court Do About Standing? The court easily concluded that the parents of the students had standing. It was a closer call for the association, but the court held that it also had standing. The court noted that an association, such as the Disability Law Center, can sue if 1) its members would be able to sue; and 2) the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the purposes of the organization. DLC passed that test.
What Did the Court Do About the Placement Decision? Citing 10th Circuit precedent, the court ruled that the district’s policy was permissible. Key Quote:
…if a student’s IEP calls for placement in another school in order to receive specialized services, a school district “is not obligated to fully explore supplementary aids and services before removing a child from a neighborhood school.”
What Can We Learn? Contrary to what some believe, there is no “right” to be served in the neighborhood school. Schools can centralize services to meet the needs of low-incidence populations. But notice how important it is to determine what goes into the IEP before deciding placement. The ARDC should come to consensus on the present levels, the annual goals, the instructional services needed, the related services needed, and the methods of measuring progress. Then and only then is the ARDC ready to determine what is the LRE in which that array of services can be provided. These students both had IEPs that required a level of services that could not feasibly be provided in the neighborhood school. That’s why the court upheld the placements in the “hub” schools.
It’s Jacobs v. Salt Lake City School District, decided by the federal district court in Utah in 2023 and cited at 83 IDELR 40.
DAWG BONE: AGREE ON THE IEP FIRST. THEN DECIDE PLACEMENT.
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at email@example.com.
Tomorrow: the latest transgender case