Failing rigorous magnet school classes does not render child eligible for IDEA.

Topic: Special Education, Decided by: Judge Howells 
Docket Number: ****** , Decision Date: December 5, 2013 
Attachment: Click here to download the decision. 

School District did not violate Plaintiff’s rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Plaintiff asserted that his rights had been violated by the school district’s failure to identify him as “a child with a disability,” evaluate him, provide him with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), and give him a copy of his procedural rights.  While Plaintiff is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he was enrolled in rigorous magnet school program, where he made educational progress.  Plaintiff did not fail any classes until the end of his senior year.  His difficulties during that year appeared to be due primarily to apathy or a conscious decision not to do certain assignments.  Evidence, including testimony from teachers, performance on completed assignments, grades in advanced placement courses, and scores on standardized tests, demonstrated that Plaintiff was able gain educational benefit from his courses.  Simply having a qualifying diagnosis is not sufficient to establish eligibility to special education under the IDEA.  Rather, in order to be eligible, the child must need special education services to access or benefit from the general curriculum.  The IDEA does not guarantee success in a magnet program.  Because Plaintiff did not qualify for services under the IDEA, there could be no “child find” violation, nor could there be a violation of FAPE or his procedural rights.  Even had Plaintiff been eligible for services, there was no evidence that the school ignored clear signs of a disability, and at minimum, the teachers had a rational basis for believing he did not need to be evaluated for special education services.

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