Also known as the zero reject principle (one of the six principles) of IDEA. FAPE requires that no child be denied public education. "According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act, FAPE must: (A) Have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (B) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (C) include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the State involved; and (D) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program under section 614(d)".
How do the court cases Goss v. Lopez, Hudson v. Rowley & T.R.; E.M.R., v. Kingwood Township Board of Education apply to FAPE?
Goss v. Lopez (1974-1975)
In Columbus, Ohio, nine students at three different schools were given 10 days of suspension from school. The principals didn't hold hearings for the students before suspending them (Ohio law did not require them to hold a hearing). The actions were challenged and a federal court decided that the students' rights had been violated. In court, it was discovered that, suspending the students without preliminary hearings violated the students' "Due Process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment".
Reflection - How does this apply to FAPE?
FAPE states that "the rights of the students and their parents are to be protected by the law under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment". The District Court told Ohio that they must recognize students' "entitlements to education as property interests protected by the Due Process Clause that could not be taken without minimum procedures required by the Clause". The minimum procedure: students should have been given notice and had some sort of hearing prior to suspension.
The education of students is a right that is lawfully protected.
The students educational rights are protected by law and they were violated. Since the sate of Ohio did not have a law requiring a hearing to be held, I believe the school was doing what they thought was right. However, rights were violated and I am sure the state and the school board were required to change some of their requirements.
I had no idea that there had to be a hearing for students who were to be suspended. Kids at my school (in high school) got suspended and I had never thought anything of it. After reading about this case, I can see how it is a violation of FAPE and the 14th Amendment.
Hudson v. Rowley (1982)
This case involves a girl named Amy Rowley. She is deaf. Although she can't hear, she is an excellent lip reader. When she entered elementary school, her parents and the school put together an IEP for her. The IEP seemed to cover all the bases. The school followed the IEP guidelines. Amy's parents (who are also deaf), were not happy with the IEP. It doesn't seem like there was any reason for them to be unhappy however, they were. They wanted Amy to have a qualified sign language interpreter with her at all times.
The school administration agreed to the Rowley's "want". They hired an interpreter and after a trial period, the appropriate school administrators and the sign language interpreter as well as Amy's parents met (to see what progress had been made). The school and the interpreter did not see any progress (nor regression). Amy had been doing well in school (better than most of her classmates), the interpreter did not seem to add anything to her education (nor did the interpreter take anything away from her education). Amy's parents took the school to court. After receiving evidence from both sides, the examiner agreed with the administrators' that an interpreter was not necessary because "Amy was achieving educationally, academically, and socially" without assistance from the special interpreter.
Reflection - How does this apply to FAPE?
In order to qualify for federal financial assistance under the Act, a State must demonstrate that it "has in effect a policy that assures all handicapped children the right to a free appropriate public education." States receiving money under the Act must provide education to the handicapped by priority, first "to handicapped children who are not receiving an education" and second "to handicapped children . . . with the most severe handicaps who are receiving an inadequate education," 1413(3)
The court decided that public schools are not required by law to provide sign language interpreters to deaf students who are otherwise receiving an equal and adequate education.
One definition of special education is, "specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or guardians, to meet the unique needs of a handicapped child, including classroom instruction, instruction in physical education, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions." 1401(16). Related services are defined as "transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services . . . as may be required to assist a handicapped child to benefit from special education." 1401(17)
Amy did receive related services that enabled her to be successful in the general education classroom. No further services were needed at this time.
If Amy had been struggling in school maybe an interpreter could have been an option. I understand that parents want what is best for their children. I also hope that schools also want what is best for the children. I think that schools should do what they can (in accordance with the law) to help children be successful. This is why the IEP is so important and valuable. When the IEP team meets, they can figure out if the requirements are helping the child. If they are, that is wonderful. If they are not, then something needs to be altered.
I wonder what would have happened had Amy struggled in school. They probably would have kept the interpreter. The law was changed and a school is not required to provide a sign language interpreter however, if it would benefit the student, can exceptions be made?
T.R.; E.M.R., v. Kingwood Township Board of Education
This case involves the parents, T.R. and E.M.R. of N.R. They requested reimbursement for private school tuition and support services for their child. The parents took the school board to court because they said that the board's proposed placement did not provide their child with any educational benefit in the least restrictive environment (as required by IDEA). The court case ended in favor of the school board.
The IEP that was drawn up, placed N.R. in a half-day preschool class that was half children with disabilities and half without. N.R.'s parents rejected this. They wanted their child to spend the next year at a private daycare center and they wanted the school to reimburse them for it (this daycare was not, at the time, accredited). They also wanted the school to provide supplemental special education services for N.R. at this daycare. The District Court found that the school was the least restrictive environment for N.R. under the IDEA (as opposed to the daycare). Also, the daycare could not be considered as a placement for N.R. because, it was not accredited by the state.
Reflection - How does this apply to FAPE?
The IDEA requires states receiving federal funding under the Act to have “in effect a policy that ensures all children with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education.” 20 U.S.C. § 1412(1). If a state fails to satisfy this mandate, parents have a right to reimbursement for private school tuition.
In this case, it is apparent that the Board introduced sufficient evidence to prove that the school placement provided a free and appropriate education for N.R.
Parents have the right to make sure that their child is in the best possible placement to reach their fullest potential. The law states that the child receive an appropriate education so it's important to make sure the school is providing this.
Parents play an important role in FAPE. However, they can be biased. What a parent thinks is appropriate, best, and a need for their child, may not always be what is appropriate (under FAPE). This is a sensitive issue hence the reason parents take schools to court.
For All of These Court Cases
It is important that the IEP is reviewed and being followed. Parents might want to ask themselves a few questions. Question such as, "Is the IEP designed to meet my child's unique needs?" and "Will the goals in the IEP prepare my child for further education, employment and independent living?" These questions can help parents figure out if their "child is receiving meaningful educational benefit".
How does the concept of FAPE intersect with LRE?
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is based on the presumption that the general education classroom is the first choice for educating all individuals. FAPE requires that schools offer every child a free and appropriate public education, it also requires schools to place every child in their least restrictive environment. What is least restrictive to one student may not be to another. Each child is unique.
Children need to be able to learn in the environment that allows them the best opportunity for exploration. The fewer the restrictions, the more able a child is to grow and develop. Of course, restrictions (materials, placement, setting) may be necessary to provide the best education for some children. It is important to remember that each child is unique and they all learn differently.
How does the concept of FAPE intersect with “continuum of service" (placement)?
Pay attention to the progress being made on IEP goals. This can help identify if the current placement is the best. Children who are in need of special education services, may sometimes be in danger of becoming too restricted. This restriction can hinder growth and development.
It is kind of a trial and error situation. This is why the IEP is important. Each child is unique. Some may benefit by being less restricted in certain areas. It is required that the school find what is best for the student.
As a future educator, it is important for me to understand that each child achieves their LRE through evaluation of the specific needs of the student, not a formula or set criteria. I am learning, through my special education classes, how to differentiate my instruction for the benefit of all students (not just the ones who need it). This differentiation can enable the student to stay in the general education classroom as much as possible.
How is FAPE associated with extended school year?
Some students may achieve their best results through an extended school year. The extra time ensures they are given additional support in times when regression becomes a possibility with their learning. The appropriate level of education can be achieved with FAPE through the extended school year (summer school).
As I was researching this assignment, I was intrigued by the fact that some articles suggested parents take the word "best" out of their vocabulary (the parent wants what is "best" for their child). What is "best" to the parent is not necessarily what is appropriate. Schools are required to give children a free and APPROPRIATE education (not the best education). It sounds harsh however,
Remember that "parent testimony carries little weight in the eyes of hearing officers and judges". Loving parents are biased. Parents want the best education for their children with or without disabilities). Testimony from parents about what their child needs is not persuasive. If parents have a concern about the education their child is receiving, it would benefit them to find experts (expert testimony), who are willing to educate the IEP team about what is best for the individual child of concern.
In My Future Classroom
I hope to gain as much information in my college classes so that I will be well informed when I have my own classroom. I want parents to be involved in their child's education. I can see how this could get negative on occasion. This is why it is important that I know my students and their unique needs. From here, I can inform parents. If I develop a trusting relationship with parents, they will believe that I have the interest of their child at the forefront of all that I do.