It’s important for school districts to have copies of divorce decrees and other legal documents that spell out the rights of parents after they split. A school district in Ohio was dealing with parents who disagreed with each other over the education of their son. Mom gave consent for the district to provide special education services to the boy due to his emotional disturbance. Dad disagreed, and took his complaint all the way to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a short opinion, the Circuit Court pointed out that while the dad was the biological parent, he was no longer “the parent” for purposes of IDEA.
IDEA anticipates situations in which there may be multiple people who meet the statute’s definition of “parent.” It could be a grandparent. It could be a stepparent. It could be someone else. So IDEA sets out a hierarchy of those claiming the title of “parent.” You might think that the biological or adoptive parents are at the top of the heap. They are, but there is an exception: if the biological or adoptive parent “does not have legal authority to make educational decisions for the child.”
That was the case here. The Domestic Relations Court had given the mom the exclusive power to make educational decisions for the child. Dad had no authority to pursue this matter. It’s a good thing that the district had the court order.
The case is Chukwuani v. Solon City School District, decided by the 6th Circuit on April 21, 2020. We found it in Special Ed Connection at 76 IDELR 147.
DAWG BONE: KEEP A COPY OF THE DIVORCE DECREE. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE CURRENT ONE.
Tomorrow: Child Find and dyslexia….revisited.