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Justices Refuse Review of Special Education Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear the appeal of a Virginia school district over whether the federal special education law requires that school officials offer a specific school site in the individualized education program for a student with disabilities.

The appeal in Alexandria City School Board v. A.K. (Case No. 07-541) involved the IEP developed for the 2004-05 school year for a student with multiple disabilities. The Alexandria district proposed day placements in two private schools, but the child's parents refused the IEP and sought reimbursement for placing their child in a different private school.

A 2-1 ruling last year by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va., upheld reimbursement for the parents. The court held that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires IEPs to include not merely the type of educational placement proposed for a student, but the name of the school where the IEP would be implemented.

The school district's brief argued that the 4th Circuit ruling was inconsistent with U.S. Department of Education regulations and with the decisions of at least four other federal appeals courts.

The district drew the support of a joint friend-of-the-court brief filed by the National School Boards Association, American Association of School Administrators, and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education. The education groups said "the 4th Circuit's ruling threatens the collaborative process and ignores the practical realities underlying the development of [IEPs] for children with disabilities."

The brief on behalf of the family argued that the 4th Circuit decision was consistent with the IDEA and with case law on the development of IEPs.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the school district's appeal without any recorded dissent.

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