St. Mary's Law Journal


Judith DeBerry


Due to the ambiguous language of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), there is uncertainty concerning IDEA’s requirements. IDEA mandates that all school districts receiving federal education monies provide for the education of disabled students. According to IDEA, each state must provide disabled children with “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the student’s unique needs and prepare him or her for employment and independent living. Parents have argued that IDEA requires school districts to compensate them for commercial programs and private school costs. Courts have held that an individual education plan (IEP) which provides some educational benefits is sufficient to satisfy IDEA. Parents are granted or denied relief based solely on a school district’s compliance with procedural requirements. Nonetheless, courts have sided with school districts even if some procedural violations occurred, so long as it was shown that the disabled child received a FAPE. School districts must be required to strictly adhere to IDEA’s procedural requirements. To reduce litigation, school districts must be required to maintain accurate records of their attempts to provide an appropriate educational experience for disabled students and resolve parental concerns promptly. Furthermore, Texas should adopt a statewide uniform system modeled after the Rowley standards. In Board of Education v. Rowley, the United States Supreme Court concluded that the FAPE requirement is met when a school district provides personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit a child to benefit educationally from that instruction. Texas should initiate statewide training programs for school district personnel. These programs should provide the knowledge and skills necessary to implement special education services that meet federal and state guidelines as well as teach the parents of disabled students how to appropriately advocate for their child.


St. Mary's University School of Law