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Supreme Court Declines to Hear IDEA Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined review of an appeal involving special education services for preschoolers.

The question in D.P. v. Broward County School Board (Case No. 07-613) was whether a 3-year-old who transitions from early-intervention services under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to preschool services under Part B of the law is entitled to continue receiving the early-intervention services until the completion of a review of the child's proposed preschool program. (That is a paraphrase that sticks very close to how the family's lawyers phrased it in their appeal to the high court.)

The case involves triplets, identified in court papers as E.P., D.P, and K.P., who are now 7 years old and have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The family's suit said the Broward County school district refused to develop valid individualized education programs for the children under Part B of the IDEA after they "aged out" of Part C when they turned 3 years old. The district also refused to continue the Part C services on an interim basis, the family alleged.

Last year, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, issued a 2-1 decision that the IDEA does not require the school district to continue the Part C plan until an IEP is developed under Part B.

The group Autism Speaks had filed a friend-of-the-court brief on the side of the family urging the justices to take up the case. "For an ever-growing population of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, a lapse in appropriate services during the window of opportunity would be devastating," the group's brief says. (Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to the brief on Autism Speaks Web site.)

The justices declined without comment to hear the family's appeal, which is not a ruling on the merits of the case.

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