ERIC Number: EJ1088849
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Sep
Reference Count: 45
Trends in Special Education Case Law: Frequency and Outcomes of Published Court Decisions 1998-2012
Karanxha, Zorka; Zirkel, Perry A.
Journal of Special Education Leadership, v27 n2 p55-65 Sep 2014
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) obligates school districts to identify students with disabilities and provide them with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes specially designed instruction. Identification, FAPE, least restrictive environment (LRE), and various other issues under the IDEA sometimes become a source of contention between parents and school districts. The IDEA provides both the parent and the school district with the right to file a due process complaint on ''any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child [with disability], or the provision of [FAPE] to such child'' (11415(b)(6)(A)) and the right of appeal to ''any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a [federal] district court'' (11415(i)(2)(A)). This article determines the frequency and outcomes of published court decisions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for students from pre-K through grade 12, starting in January 1998 and ending in December 2012. The frequency of these decisions trended upward during the 15-year period, particularly during the most recent 5-year interval. The conclusive outcomes favored districts 3:1 both overall and on a relatively consistent longitudinal basis; however, the intermediate outcomes partially ameliorated this pronounced prodistrict tendency. The Second Circuit region (New York, Vermont, and Connecticut) had the highest volume of cases, and the Tenth Circuit (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming) had the lowest. The Eighth Circuit (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas), was the leader in the prodistrict outcomes, and the D.C. Circuit was the most district-favorable circuit court region. It is concluded that the upward longitudinal trend in the volume of published cases filed under the IDEA continues from earlier periods, particularly during the most recent 5-year interval of this study. Parents of children with special needs continue to seek redress and remedy for the education of their children from the courts. Such a finding underscores the need in the field of special education for educational leaders and teachers who possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and dispositions to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Additionally, it highlights an area of continued opportunity for attorneys to consider expanding the training on special education litigation in their practice. Finally, the continued growth in special education litigation is a signal for both school districts and parents to choose collaboration in providing the education students with disabilities need rather than engage in litigation.
Descriptors: Federal Legislation, Educational Legislation, Equal Education, Disabilities, Special Education, Educational Trends, Court Litigation, Laws, Incidence, Geographic Regions, School Districts
Council of Administrators of Special Education. Fort Valley State University, 1005 State University Drive, Fort Valley, GA 31030. Tel: 478-825-7667; Fax: 478-825-7811; Web site: http://www.casecec.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Iowa; Kansas; Minnesota; Missouri; Nevada; New Mexico; New York; North Dakota; Oklahoma; South Dakota; Utah; Vermont; Wyoming
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act