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Tuition Reimbursement: Students not yet eligible for special education

It is well understood that parents may be entitled to reimbursement for the private placement of their child if they can prove the public school district denied their child a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("F.A.P.E.") and that their child received educational benefit from the private placement. The June, 2009, Forest Grove School District v. T.A. decision by the Supreme Court was an important decision answering a question that has been debated for many years.

The question presented in the Forest Grove case was whether parents are entitled to tuition reimbursement for the private placement of their child, even though their child was not yet found eligible for special education or provided any special education services from the school district. Forest Grove's argument was simply that the parents were not entitled to reimbursement because the school district never identified T.A. as requiring special education supports and related services. T.A. had a long history of ADHD, severe depression, drug use and failing grades.

The Supreme Court rejected Forest Grove's argument in a 6-3 decision ruling that this case "differs from Burlington and Carter in that it concerns not the adequacy of a proposed IEP, but the School District's failure to provide an IEP at all...moreover, when a child requires special education services, a school district's failure to propose an IEP of any kind is at least a serious violation of its responsibility under IDEA as a failure to provide an adequate IEP."

The court went on to state: "Indeed, by immunizing a school district's refusal to find a child eligible for special education services no matter how compelling the child's need, the School District's interpretation [of the statute] would produce a rule bordering on the irrational."

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Augustin Egelsee L.L.P.
8141 East Kaiser Boulevard
Suite 315
Anaheim Hills, CA 92808

Toll Free: 866-781-7723
Phone: 714-602-1498
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