Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Leave No Some Child(ren) Behind....

Today the Supreme Court handed down a very disappointing ruling, which will unfortunately have a chilling effect on any progress children with disabiliites have made under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

I have personally been waiting for the outcome of this case, having a child with disabilities myself, and needless to say this is NOT the outcome I had hoped for.

This is a crucial issue for many of us who have fought with school districts over inadequacies of the school's proposed educational services.

This ruling - which now places the burden on parents to "prove" that a program, an IEP, or offered services are inadequate - will be a significant blow to children on IEPs.

In essence, the ruling states, without question, that "the schools know best" what your child needs. If you don't agree - prove it!

By putting the burden of proof on parents, it puts the full burden of cost on parents as well. Cost which most parents of a disabled child already can't afford. Many schools already drag out Due Process hearings just waiting for the parents to run out of money and drop the case. While some schools agreed to pay for additional testing to dispute parents' claims in the past (and have a leg-up during due process), let parents now be warned: never again will any special testing be done on the school's dime.

And in reality, we all know the sad truth of the matter anyway: there is no way to prove the inadequacy of any program except to show "after the fact" that it didn't work. Parents will never now be in a position to demand change because a school can say "we believe this will work..." and you can't "prove" it won't until after it already hasn't. The ultimate Catch-22. The only way to prove inadequacy is to let your child suffer and fail - repeatedly.

Interesting that the Bush administration took a public position and backed the school district on this case. Yes, let's "leave no child behind" - unless they have a learning disability that is.

This news truly makes today a lousy day. And, unfortunately, I know my own child will be directly effected by this because this has always been the basis for our issues with her school.

Who knows best what she needs? Experts on the cognitive differences and learning styles of children with her disability? Or public school administrators who believe in one-size-fits-all special ed programs?

Wow... and to believe it got 6 votes too...



At 11:45 PM, Blogger Tahoma Activist said...

I'm so sorry that this happened. Folks in your situation are so at the mercy of your government. Any one of us could be in your position if something were to happen to a family member, or if our child is born with a disability. This type of ruling is just what justices like Sam Alito will bring more of to the court. It's why we need a truly liberal judge on that court. God bless you for doing what you do, good luck raising your child under these less than ideal conditions.

At 12:17 AM, Blogger N.J. said...

Thanks for the note and kind words. The scary thing to me is that even with a liberal judge on the court, the best this would have received was a 5-3 vote. Not an overwhelming endorsement for the rights of parents and individuals with disabilities. -n


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