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Court affirms reimbursement for special education

In a decision that could help disabled students obtain needed services yet cost public school districts millions of dollars, the Supreme Court ruled on June 22 that parents of special-education students may seek government reimbursement for private school tuition, even if they have never received special-education services in a public school, reports the New York Times. The case before the court involved a struggling Oregon high school student, identified in court documents only as T.A., whose parents removed him from public school in the Forest Grove district in his junior year and enrolled him in a $5,200-a-month residential school. Although Forest Grove officials had noticed T.A.’s difficulties and evaluated him for learning disabilities, he was found ineligible for special-education services. Only after he enrolled in the private school did doctors say T.A. had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other disabilities. The issue in the Forest Grove case was whether a 1997 amendment to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, prohibits private-school tuition reimbursement for students who never received special-education services in public school. Forest Grove, backed by school boards associations across the country, argued that the amendment precluded reimbursement for those, like T.A., who never received special-education services in public school. But the high court, in a 6-to-3 ruling, rejected that argument…

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