A question of interest to parents of children with Special Needs is now before the United States Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard on October 1, 2007. The case in question stems from a dispute between the Board of Education for the City School District in the City of New York. The arguments in Board of Education of City of New York v. Tom F. can be found on the Wright law website by clicking here
The question before the Supreme Court was whether parents of a child who has never received special education and related services from the public school district can obtain reimbursement for a unilateral private placement. For parents to be eligible to obtain reimbursement for a private placement, they must prove that the school district did not offer their child a free appropriate public education (FAPE). They must also prove that the private program they selected provided their child with an appropriate education.
The school district argued that the 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") also require the child to have “previously received special education and related services under the authority of a public agency.” §1412(a)(10)(C)(ii). The parents, who were supported by the United States Department of Justice, argued that nothing in the IDEA forces a child to attend an inappropriate program before he can attend an appropriate program in a private school.