Briefing by pengxiang


From “Special Education Law”

               Nikki Murdick
              Barbara Gartin
              Terry Crabtree
                   Oliver BROWN et al., Appellants,
                   Shawnee County, Kansas, et al.

 United States Supreme Court347 U.S. 438, 98 L.Ed. 873, 74 S.Ct. 686
 Argued December 8—li, 1952 Reargued December 7—9, 1953
 Decided May 17, 1954

 Facts: This case was a consolidated appeal of tour separate groups of
  plaintiffs in Kansas, South Carolina. Virginia, and Delaware. The Court
  summarized why the four cases were treated together, "In each of the
  cases, minors of the Negro race, through their legal representatives, seek
  the aid of the Courts in obtaining admission to the public schools of their
  community on a non-segregated basis.” The plaintiffs alleged that such
  segregation denied them their right of equal protection of the laws under the
  fourteenth Amendment. The Courts below each relied on the holding in
  Plessy V. Ferguson. 163 U.S. 537, 41 I..Ed. 256, 16 S.Ct. 1138 for the
  proposition that „equality of treatment is accorded when the races are
  provided substantially equal facilities, even though those facilities be
  separate.” The plaintiffs argued that segregated public schools could not be
  made „equal, thus depriving them of their equal protection rights.
 Issue:             The Court summarized the major issue as follows: "Does
  segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the
  physical facilities and other 'tangible' factors may be equal, deprive the children of the
  minority group of equal educational opportunities?“

 Holding:         „The Court rejected the „separate but equal‟ doctrine of Plessy v.
  Ferguson. In doing so, the Court held that in the field of public education. „separate
  but equal‟ has no place.

 Rationale:         The Court‟s holding was based on the history of the post—Civil War
  amendments affecting slavery and racial segregation. The Court also looked to
  modern theories of psychology, accepting the idea that segregation, especially
  among school-age children, fostered lifelong feelings of inferiority. Further, the Court
  used its holding in Sweat V. Painter 339 U.S. 629. 94 LEd. 1117. 70 S.Ct. 8-48 to
  support the no-tion that qualities that are incapable of objective measurement, such
  as the ability to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, made
  the “separate but equal doctrine inadequate for assuring equal educational
  opportunities for children.

 Effects:           The effects of the Brown decision are far-reaching in the areas of
  Constitutional law, education, civil rights, and race relations, The specific holding only
  addressed the constitutionality of the segregated education systems of four school
  districts, but the decision effectively began the slow process of desegregating schools
  across the nation. While the Court specifically overruled Plessy v. Ferguson in only
  the public education context, the Brown decision was an important catalyst in the
  Court‟s later decisions affecting all facets of American society.
 Discussion Questions
1. Prior to Brown v. Board of Education, segregation was the way
   things are done.” As a result of the Court‟s ruling, what changes
   occurred in your state in
   a. elementary and secondary public school?
   b. vocational education?
   c. higher education?
   d. teacher-training programs?
   e. the provision of education to persons with disabilities?

2. How did the decision in Brown v. Board of Education support each
   of the following:
   a. the deinstitutionalization movement?
   b. the advocacy movement?
   c. civil rights activism?
   d. governmental involvement in education?
Public Law 105—17: Title and Findings
105th Congress
An Act to amend the Individuals with
 Disabilities Education Act, to
 reauthorize and make improvements to
 that Act, and for other purposes

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
 Representatives of the United States
 America in Congress assembled
Section 1.     This Act may be cited as the
 “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
 Amendments Short Title of 1997”.

Title I—Amendments to the Individuals
  with Disabilities Education Act
Sec. 101. Amendments to the Individuals
 with Disabilities Education Act.
Parts A through D of the Individuals with
 Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400
 et seq.) are amended to read as follows:
Part A—General Provisions
 Sec. 601. Short Title; Table of Contents;
 Findings; Purposes
(a) SHORT TITLE—This Act may be cited
 as the Individuals with Disabilities
 Education Act.

(h) TABLE OF CONTENTS—The table of
 contents for this Act is as follows:
(c) FINDINGS—The Congress finds the
(1) Disability is a natural part of the human
  experience and in no way diminishes the right of
  individuals to participate in or contribute to
  society. Improving educational results for
  children with disabilities is an essential element
  of our national policy of ensuring equality of
  opportunity, full participation, independent living,
  and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with
(2) Before the date of the enactment of the Education for
    All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-

   (A)        the special educational needs of children with
   disabilities were not being fully met;
   (B)        more than one—half of the children with
   disabilities in the United States did not receive
   appropriate educational services that would enable
   such children to have full equality of opportunity;
   (C)        1,000000 of the children with disabilities in
   the United States were ex-cluded entirely from the
   public school system and did not go through the
   educational process with their peers;
(D) there were many children with disabilities throughout
    the United States participating in regular school
    programs whose disabilities pre-vented such children
    from having a successful educational experience
    because their disabilities were undetected; and

(E) because of the lack of adec1uate services within the
    public school system, families were often forced to find
    services outside the public school system, often at
    great distance from their residence and at their own
(3) Since the enactment and
  implementation of the Education for All
  Handicapped Children Act of 1975, this
  Act has been successful in ensuring
  children with disabilities and the families of
  such children access to a free appropriate
  public education and in improving
  educational results for children with
(4) However, the implementation of this
  Act has been impeded by low
  ex-pectations, and an insufficient focus on
  applying replicable research on proven
  methods of teaching and learning for
  children with disabilities.
(5) Over 20 years of research and experience has
    demonstrated that the education of children
    with disabilities can be made more effective

(6) (A)      having high expectations for such
    children and ensuring their access in the
    general curriculum to the maximum extent
    (B)      strengthening the role of parents and
    ensuring that families of such children have
    meaningful opportunities to participate in the
    education of their children at school and at
    (C)      coordinating this Act with other local,
    educational service agency, State, and
Federal school improvement efforts in order
 to ensure that such children benefit from
 such efforts and that special education can
 become a service for such children rather
 than a place where they are sent;
 (I)) providing appropriate special education
 and related services and aids and
 supports in the regular classroom to such
 children, whenever appropriate;
(F) supporting high-quality, intensive professional
    development for all personnel who work with
    such children in order to ensure that they have
    the skills and knowledge necessary to enable

   (i) to meet developmental goals and, to) the
   maximum extent pos-sible, those challenging
   expectations that have been esta-blished for all
   children; and
   (ii) to be prepared to lead productive,
   independent, adult lives, to the maximum
   extent possible;
(F) providing incentives for whole-school
  approaches and pre-referral intervention to
  reduce the need to label children as disabled in
  order to address their learning needs; and

(G) focusing resources on teaching and learning
 while reducing paper- work and requirements
 that do not assist in improving educational
(6) While States, local educational agencies,
  and educational service agencies are
  responsible for providing an education for all
  children with disabilities, it is in the national
  interest that the Federal Government have a role
  in assisting State and local efforts to educate
  children with disabilities in order to improve
  results for such children and to ensure equal
  protection of the law.
(7) (A) The Federal Government must be responsive to the
    growing needs of an increasingly more diverse society.
    A more equitable allocation of resources is essential for
    the Federal Government to meet its responsibility to
    provide an equal educational opportunity for all

   (B) America‟s racial profile is rapidly changing. Between
   1980 and 1990, the rate of increase in the population
   for white Americans was 6 percent, while the rate of
   increase for racial and ethnic minorities was much
   higher: 53 percent for Hispanics, 13.2 percent for
   African Americans, and 107.8 percent for Asians.
(C) By the year 2000, this Nation will have 276,000,000
  people, nearly one of every three of whom will he either
  African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, or
  American Indian.

(D)    Taken together as a group, minority children are
  comprising an ever larger percentage of public school
  students. Large-city school popu-lations are
  overwhelmingly minority, for example: for fall 1993, the
  figure for Miami was 84 percent; Chicago. 89 percent;
  Philadelphia, 78 percent; Baltimore, 84 percent;
  Houston, 88 percent: and Los Angeles, 88 percent.
(E)Recruitment efforts within special education must focus on
   bringing larger numbers of minorities into the profession in
   order to) provide appropriate practitioner knowledge, role
   models, and sufficient manpower to address the clearly
   changing demography of special education.

   (F) The limited English proficient population is the fastest
   growing in our Nation, and the growth is occurring in many
   parts of our Nation. In the Nation‟s 2 largest school districts,
   limited English proficient stu-dents make up almost half of all
   students initially entering school at the kindergarten level.
   Studies have documented apparent discrepancies in the
   levels of referral and placement of limited English profi-cient
   children in special education. The Department of Education
   has found that services provided to) limited English proficient
   students of­ten do not respond primarily to the pupil‟s
   academic needs. These trends pose special challenges for
   special education in the referral, assessment, and services
   for our Nation‟s students from non-English language
(8) (A) Greater efforts are needed to
  prevent the intensification of problems
  connected with mislabeling and high drop-
  out rates among minority children with
  (B)More minority children continue to be
  served in special education than would be
  expected from the percentage of minority
  students in the general school population.
(C) Poor African-American children are 2.3 times
more likely to) he iden-tified by their teacher as
having mental retardation than their white
(D) Although African-Americans represent 16
percent of elementary and secondary
enrollments, they constitute 21 percent of total
enrollments in special education.
(E) The drop-out rate is 68 percent higher for
minorities than for whites,
(F) More than 50 percent of minority students in
large cities drop out of school.
(9) (A) The opportunity for full participation in
  awards for grants and contracts; board of
  organizations receiving funds under the Act; and
  peer review panels; and training of professionals
  in the area of special education by minority
  individuals, organizations, and historically black
  colleges and universities is essential if we are to
  obtain greater success in the education of
  minority children with disabilities.
(B) In 1993, of the 915,000 college and university
    professors. 4.9 percent were African-American and 2.4
    percent were Hispanic. Of the 2,940,000 teachers,
    pre—kindergarten through high school, 6.8 percent
    were African-American and 4.1 percent were 1

(C) Students from minority groups comprised more than 50
    percent of K—12 public school enrollment in seven
    States yet minority enrollment in teacher training
    programs is less than 15 percent in all but six States.
(D) As the number of African—American and Hispanic
    students in special education increases, the number of
    minority teachers a ml related service personnel
    produced in our colleges and universities continues to

   (E) Ten years ago, 12 percent of the United States
   teaching force in public elementary and secondary
   schools were members of a minority group. Minorities
   comprised 21 percent of the national population at that
   time and were clearly underrepresented then among
   employed teachers. Today, the elementary and
   secondary teaching force is 13 percent minority, while
   one-third of the students in public schools are minority
(G) While African-American students constitute 28
    percent of total enroll-ment in special
    education, only 11.2 percent of individuals
    enrolled in pre-service training programs for
    special education are African-American

(H) In 1986—87, of the degrees conferred in
    education at the BA.. MA., and Ph.D. levels.
    only 6. 8, and 8 percent, respectively, were
    awarded to African-American or Hispanic
(10) Minorities and underserved persons
  are socially disadvantaged because of the
  lack of opportunities in training and
  educational programs, undergirded by the
  practices in the private sector that
  impeded their full participation in the
  mainstream of society.
(d) PURPOSES—The purposes of this
title are—
(1) (A) to ensure that all children with disabilities have
    available to them a free appropriate public education
    that emphasizes special education and related services
    designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them
    for employment and independent living;

(B) to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and
    parents of such children are protected; and

(C) to assist States, localities, educational service
   agencies, and Federal agencies to provide for the
   education of all children with disabilities;
(2) to assist States in the implementation of a statewide,
    comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary,
    interagency system of early intervention ser-vices for
    infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families;

   (3) to ensure that educators and parents have the
   necessary tools to improve educational results for
   children with disabilities by supporting systemic-change
   activities; coordinated research and personnel
   preparation; (2000-dinated technical assistance,
   dissemination, and support; and technology
   development and media services; and
(4) to assess, and ensure the effectiveness
  of, efforts to educate children with
Discussion Questions
1. The 1997 Amendments to IDEA list 10
 findings leading to the enactment of the
 legislation. Which finding do you believe is
 the most important, and why?

2. How did the 1997 Amendments to
 IDEA ensure that each of its four purposes
 would be met?
Ridgewood Board of Education v. N.E.
172 F.3d 238 (3rd Cir. 1999)

  ME. is a 17-year-old high school student whose learning disabilities
  qualify him as a child with disabilities” under the IDEA, 20 U.S.C. ~}
  140() et seq. ME. experienced learning difficulties in both the first
  and second grades, attended summer school on his teachers
  recommendation without any appreciable success, and was
  transferred at his parents‟ request ) another school in the district
  where his difficulties continued, During the third grade, ME. was
  evaluated by an independent learning disabilities teacher consultant
  and determined to be learning disabled with intelligence at the 95th
  percentile and reading skills at the 2I~(I percentile. The school
  district agreed with the general assessment but refused to classify
  ME. as learning disabled because it concluded that he was not
  “perceptually impaired” within the meaning of New Jersey law
  (pages 158-160).
 In the sixth grade M.E. was reevaluated by the
  Child Study Team who main-tained that ME.
  showed no signs of perceptual deficits, again
  refused to classify him as perceptually impaired,
  and determined that he was not eligible for
  special educa­tion. ME‟s academic difficulties
  continued throughout the remainder of
  elementary school. In the seventh grade after an
  evaluation by an independent child study team,
  the school district agreed to classify M.E. as
  perceptually impaired and developed an
  Individualized Education Program (IEP).
At the end of the eighth grade, the school district decided
that ME, should no longer be placed in regular classes.
For the 1996—97 school year, it proposed an IEP that
provided for resource center instruction in all academic
classes two daily periods of supplementary instruction,
and speech language therapy once a week. ME. „s
parents disagreed with the IEP stating it provided fewer
services than the proven inadequate IEP of the previous
year. In 1996, ME‟s parents requested a due process
hearing before the New jersey Department of Education
contending the school district‟s proposed IEP for 1996—
97 failed to provide a “free appropriate public education”
within the meaning of IDEA and requesting that ME. be
placed in private school at the school district‟s expense.
 The school district refused. The parents
 placed ME. at a private school that
 specialized in educating students with
 learning disabilities. The school district
 also refused the parental request to pay
 for the private school‟s summer program.
 M.E. attended the summer school program
 at his parents‟ expense and made steady
 and considerable progress.
 The Administrative Law judge (AU) held that the
  district‟s 1996-97 IEP failed to provide ME. with
  a free appropriate public education. The AU then
  ordered the school district to pay ME. „s tuition at
  the private school and reimburse the parents for
  the tuition costs of attending the private school‟s
  summer program in 1996.

 In 1997, the school district filed a complaint in
  federal court under 20 U.S.C. ~
  1415(i)(2)(1998), and ME. brought a
  counterclaim seeking compensatory education.
and the non-tuition costs of attending the
 private school. He also filed a third-party
 complaint against various school district
 administrators and child study team
 mem-bers alleging violations of IDEA, The
 Rehabilitation Act of 1973, New jersey
 state law, and the U.S. Constitution. He
 requested compensatory and punitive
 damages under Section 1983.
 In 1998, the District Court reversed the ALJ‟s
  decision that the school district had not provided
  ME. a free appropriate education and reversed
  the decision that the school district pay M.E‟s
  tuition at the private school. The District Court
  also granted the school district summary
  judgment on M.E. „s third-party complaint
  seeking com-pensatory and punitive damages
  because M.E. had not been denied an
 The District Court‟s decision was appealed to
  the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. M.E.
  remained at the private school at the school
  district‟s expense pursuant to an agreement
  between his parents and the school. After oral
  argument the Circuit Court ordered the school
  district to comply with the District Court‟s order,
  enjoining the implementation of its earlier order,
  and to pay ME.„s tuition, and residential and
  transportation costs at the private school.
 Issue:       Provision of a Free Appropriate Public
 Holding: The District Court held that an IEP need only
  provide „more than a trivial educational benefit” in order
  to he appropriate, equating this minimal amount of
  benefit with a “meaningful educational benefit.” The
  standard set forth in the applicable case law requires
  “significant learning” and meaningful benefit. The
  provision of more than a trivial educational benefit” did
  not meet these standards. The Circuit Court also found
  that the District Court failed to give adequate
  consideration to ME‟s intellectual potential in its
  conclusion that the school district‟s IEP was appropriate.
  The District Court did not analyze the type and amount
  of learning of which ME. was capable. The judgment of
  the District Court was vacated and remanded.
Issue: Placement at Landmark, a Private
Holding:      The District Court‟s holding
 that the school district was not required to
 pay ME.„,s tuition at the private school for
 the 1996—97 school year because his IEP
 had provided him with a free appropriate
 public education was remanded for
Issue: Compensatory Education
Holding:       The District Court erred when
 it dismissed ME. „s claim for compensatory
 education for the years 1988—1996 on a
 finding that his 1996—97 IEP was
Issue: Costs and Fees at the
 Administrative Hearing
Holding:       The decision to vacate the
 District Court‟s reversal required that the
 denial of fees and costs be vacated and
 Issue: Third-Party Claims under 42 U.S.C. §
 Holding:The order of the District Court granting
  summary judgment was affirmed. In order to
  prevail on a Section 1985 suit brought against
  defendants in their official capacity, the plaintiff
  must establish that the deprivation of his rights
  was the result of an official policy or custom. The
  District Court held that M.E. provided no
  evidence that third-party defendants acted in
  such a manner. Indeed, the evidence presented
  indicated that the school district had failed to
  fulfill its responsibilities, not ignore them.
Issue: IDEA Claims
Holding:     The grant of summary
 judgment on ME‟s IDEA claims was
 vacated, since it appeared that the District
 Court examined only the 1996-97 school
Issue: Section 504 Claims
Holding:       The District Court‟s grant of
 summary judgment on ME‟s 504 claims
 was vacated and remanded since there
 was a genuine issue of fact concerning the
 school district‟s failure to satisfy its 504
Issue: Section 1983 and 1985
 Conspiracy Claim
Holding:      The Circuit Court agreed with
 the District Court‟s grant of summary
 judgment on ME‟s 1985 claim because it
 found no evidence that suggested the
 alleged violation of ME‟s rights was
 motivated by racial or “otherwise class-
 based” animus.
Issue: Qualified Immunity

Holding:       „The Circuit Court vacated
 and remanded the District Court‟s holding
 so that it could be reconsidered in light of
 WB. v. Matula (1995).
Issue: State Law Claims
Holding:       The District Court dismissed
 M.E. „s state law claims alleging violations
 of the New jersey law against
 discrimination and the New Jersey
 constitutions guarantee of a thorough and
 efficient education because the third-party
 defendants had qualified immunity.

For each of the identified issues, explain
 how the Circuit Court may have decided
 its holding. Base your answer on relevant
 sections of IDEA and case law.

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