There have been some exciting developments this week in the pursuit for special education services. Today we’re going to talk about Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, 788 F.3d 622 6th Cir. 2015. FYI-I am NOT a lawyer. I don’t speak legalese. This post is just for information.
Back in October of 2016, NPR published a story about a family trying to gain to access for their daughter with cerebral palsy to have a service dog accompany her at school. The legal issue before the Supreme Court tested whether children denied the help of a service dog may sue for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, without first going through an administrative appeal (very time consuming and expensive) under another law, the Individuals with Disability Education Act, or IDEA. Read below for the October story.
At the Supreme Court on Monday, the justices heard arguments in the case of a girl with disabilities, her service dog and the school that barred the dog from the premises. Ehlena Fry was born with cerebral palsy, which significantly limits her mobility but not her cognitive skills.
Did you read it? If not, please do. It provides some important background information. I’ll wait…
Ok. Done? Great! On February 22, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that federal disability laws might allow Ehlena Fry to pursue her case in court without first having to wade through a lengthy administrative process. What does that mean? Parents and guardians may be able to avoid the administrative appeal process with the school district and possibly reach faster resolution in the court system. I don’t know if this is better or worse, BUT it give families options to continue to get the support and resources needed for their children. Ehlena no longer needs her service dog to accompany her to school which is great because she’s gained improved motor skills and independence. It’s also upsetting because it shouldn’t take so many years for families to resolve special education needs for their children. I would suggest that you read both articles to get a better understanding of the issues here. This second article is from Associated Press, but I will add the NPR story as soon as one is available.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a 13-year-old Michigan girl with cerebral palsy who spent years battling school officials for the right to bring her service dog – a goldendoodle named Wonder – to class.
In the meantime if you’d like to so some light reading about the different federal laws protecting disabilities see the links below.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA)
Special Education Rules and Regulations – Texas Education Agency
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