Op-Ed on Schaffer
The ruling by the Supreme Court opens the door to specialized schools, possibly isolating children with disabilities that keep them from interacting with able-bodied children.
Disabled people fought hard to be part of mainstream America. This re-creates a school system that is discriminatory and dates to the 1970s.
These may be hypothetical scenarios, but they are backed by history. The Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide how they want to educate children with disabilities. This may lead to a huge gap when, or if, the child goes to college.
If the proper education of disabled children is not the responsibility of the public school system that all taxpayers support, the parents of these children have an enormous burden. This could be the beginning of lengthy lawsuits - for those who can afford to take a school system to court.
I don't think Schaffer leaves it "up to the states to decide how they want to educate children with disabilities." All it says is that the party challenging the IEP bears the burden of proof. That's going to have a decisive effect in a very small number of cases. The substantive standard the school district has to meet remains the same -- free appropriate public education plus related services, with all the standard's entailments. States have exactly the same obligations to children with disabilities after Schaffer as they had before the case was decided. The burden of proof matters only when the decisionmaker is in equipoise -- the evidence on both sides is equally persuasive. How often does that happen?
I'm all for trying to get this overturned. What I worry about, though, is that a Chicken Little response will just convince school districts that the Court really did cut back on the obligations they have to kids with disabilities. This is really a marginal decision.