Toolbox Tuesday!! Is it ever impossible to serve a student?

The Toolbox is our firm’s all day training program regarding serving students with disabilities who engage in behavior that is disruptive or even violent.  In the Toolbox we emphasize that IDEA requires schools to continue to serve kids, no matter how challenging the behaviors may be. 

I came across an excellent example of this point in a case from the District of Columbia.  The student was expelled from a private school where he had been placed by the district.  This was due to a violent attack on another student, which was a manifestation of his disability.  The district sought placement at 10 other private schools, none of which would take the student. The district then argued that it was not required to provide FAPE because it was impossible to do so. 

The court disagreed. The court held that IDEA does not permit an “impossibility” defense. The school also argued that the plaintiff should be denied relief because it was his violent conduct that caused his expulsion and thus he did not come to court with “clean hands.”  The court rejected that argument also, noting that it was inconsistent with IDEA.

Are you serving some students like this?   It can be frustrating, challenging, difficult….choose your word.  But don’t choose “impossible.”  As far as the law is concerned, it’s never “impossible.”  So keep plugging away.

The case is Schiff v. District of Columbia, decided by the U.S. District Court in D.C. on November 1, 2019.  The Dawg found this one on Special Ed Connection at 75 IDELR 156.


Tomorrow: Facebook and FERPA!