Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Good First Circuit IDEA Case

Yesterday, in Mr. I v. Maine School Administrative District No. 55, the First Circuit issued a very lengthy and interesting IDEA opinion. The case involved a child with Asperger's Syndrome, who was performing at an above-average level academically. The First Circuit affirmed the district court's determination that, because the child's condition led to isolation, inflexibility, and self-mutilation during schooltime, her condition "adversely affect[ed]" her educational performance and thus constituted a disability under the IDEA. The state had argued that the IDEA did not give it notice that "adversely affect" could be read so broadly, and that interpreting the statute to reach this case would therefore violate the Spending Clause. But the court rejected that argument and found the law unambiguous. I suspect this will be an important decision for children with Asperger's, who in many cases will perform at an above-average level academically but still need special education and related services under the IDEA.

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