The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 25, 2005


Will Supreme Court SPED decision affect Carlisle?

On November 14, the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Maryland parents seeking to force a change in their son's IEP (Individual Education Plan). The case was brought by parents who, without following their disabled son's IEP plan, placed their son in a private school for one year. They sought to require the school district to refund the $17,000 tuition. According to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school districts must gives students with special needs a free and appropriate public education. School districts, with parental involvement, draw up an Independent Educational Plan for each special needs student.

The Court ruled the "burden of proof" in cases regarding special education conflicts rests on the party seeking relief. Since the parents were the parties seeking relief, the court ruled they would carry the burden of proof. In other words, the parents would have to show evidence of why their son's IEP plan was not adequate, and why the school district should be required to refund the tuition. The parents' lawyer unsuccessfully argued the school district has access to more resources and should carry the burden of proof.

According to the Washington Post, only Alabama, Alaska, Delaware and Minnesota presently require the school districts to carry all burdens of proof. If a school district "seeks relief" from an IEP plan, the Court explained, the district would have the burden of proof.

Asked at the November 16 Carlisle School Committee meeting whether the ruling would affect the Carlisle School, Superintendent of Carlisle School Doyle replied, "We don't want to have to deal with litigation. We focus on providing each student with an appropriate education."

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito