North Dakota Law Review


Dennis Ingold

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Forest Grove School District v. T.A., 129 S. Ct. 2484 (2009)In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the United States Supreme Court held the 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) do not mandate that a child must have received special education or related services under the authority of a public agency to be eligible to receive tuition reimbursement for a placement in private school. Allowing school districts to avoid reimbursing parents for the cost of their child’s private special education by claiming the child never received special education in public school would create a perverse incentive for school districts not to identify children as eligible for special education or related services. In so holding, the Court concluded IDEA continues to authorize reimbursement for the costs of special education and related services when school districts fail to provide a free, appropriate public education, and where placement in private school is appropriate under IDEA. Although no categorical bar exists to reimbursement when a child has not previously received special education in public school, tuition reimbursement remains an equitable remedy to be granted by courts in some, but not all, circumstances. After Forest Grove, courts remain free to grant or deny reimbursement based on equitable considerations, such as whether the party seeking reimbursement provided to the school district sufficient notice of its intent to place the child in private school. Forest Grove removed the categorical bar to tuition reimbursement some circuit courts of appeals had read into the 1997 Amendments, and made clear that tuition reimbursement is an available remedy to be granted when warranted by the equities.

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