In Forest Grove School Dist. vs. T.A., the US Supreme Court held that parents may be entitled to reimbursement for expenditures for a private school, when the public school has failed to appropriately identify a student as being in need of special education services.
This case breaks new ground because the student did not have an IEP and the parents had opted to seek private services on their own rather than appealing the public school’s denial of an IEP for the student, a high school junior with ADHD. However, in a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the court explained:
“A reading of the Act that left parents without an adequate remedy when a school district unreasonably failed to identify a child with disabilities would not comport with Congress’ acknowledgment of the paramount importance of properly identifying each child eligible for services.”
“It would be particularly strange for the Act to provide a remedy, as all agree it does, when a school district offers a child inadequate special-education services but to leave parents without relief in the more egregious situation in which the school district unreasonably denies a child access to such services altogether.”
“[T]his case vividly demonstrates the problem of delay, as respondent’s parents first sought a due process hearing in April 2003, and the District Court issued its decision in May 2005—almost a year after respondent graduated from high school.”