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To learn about landmark cases in special education law, select a case from the drop-down menu or click on a link below:

Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Amy Rowley

A child’s right to a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) was clearly defined in this landmark Supreme Court decision. The dispute arose over the requirements imposed by Congress upon States receiving federal funds under the “Education for All Handicapped Children Act,” which has since been renamed and revised, and is now known as the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (“IDEA”).

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Oberti v. Clementon Board of Education

This case, decided in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, is applicable only in those districts governed by the Third Circuit, such as New Jersey. New York belongs to the Second Circuit and is therefore unaffected by the decision and findings in Oberti.

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Unilateral Placements

The most common case in special education law involves the unilateral placement of a student with special needs into a private school setting.  After making the placement, the family then seeks reimbursement from the local education agency by filing a due process petition or an impartial hearing request.

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Burlington School Committee v. Massachusetts Department of Education

Michael Panico was a student in the Burlington School District in Massachusetts. Michael was diagnosed with “specific learning disabilities” and regularly performed poorly at school, despite his high level of intelligence.

The school district determined that it did not have an appropriate in-district program for him, so it revised Michael’s IEP for the 1979-1980 school year to place him at the Pine Glen School. Michael’s parents rejected the IEP, sought review, and had an evaluation done that indicated that Michael required placement in a “highly specialized setting.” Michael’s parents placed him independently at the Carroll School, a state approved private school.

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Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter

Shannon Carter was classified as learning disabled in the ninth grade. The drafted IEP provided for Shannon to remain in regular classes, except for three periods of individual instruction each week, and defined specific goals in reading and mathematics of four months’ progress for the entire school year. Shannon’s parents were not satisfied with the IEP and filed in order to challenge it.

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