Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Courts Continue to Enforce Special Education Rights Beyond High School

Late in the summer, Mark Weber posted on the 9th Circuit's holding in  E.R.K. v. Hawaii Department of Education that 20 and 21 year old individuals with special education needs were entitled to services if the state was also providing free GED and competency based education to other students.  Now comes a new decision from the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles Unified School Dist. v. Garcia, 2013 6501267 (2013), holding that special education students between the ages of 18 and 22 are entitled to special education and related services even when incarcerated.  Although California Education Code section 56041 "does not by its terms specifically address county jail inmates, the statutory language is broad enough to encompass special education programs for eligible county jail inmates between the ages of 18 and 22 years, and no other statute explicitly assigns responsibility for the provision of special education to such individuals. Applying the terms of section 56041 to assign responsibility in this setting is consistent with the purposes of the statute and the special education scheme as a whole, and does not create absurd or unworkable results.” 


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