Hastings Women’s Law Journal


The passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), a major civil rights bill, provided children with disabilities heightened access to education. At the heart of the IDEA is a school district's responsibility to provide each child with an individualized education, often referred to as a "free appropriate public education" ("FAPE"). Where a public school district is itself unable to provide a FAPE, IDEA requires the district to pay for the student's enrollment in a private school. Courts initially interpreted IDEA to require that parents give public school districts an opportunity to provide a FAPE before removing their child to private school, thus creating a paradox limiting children with disabilities access to education. In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the United States Supreme Court overruled these decisions, holding that parents of children with disabilities could seek tuition reimbursement for private school placements regardless of whether their child had previously received special education from a public school. Nonetheless, the paradox remains. This note summarizes the pertinent provisions of IDEA, examines the Forest Grove decision itself, and discusses parents' inability exercise their right under Forest Grove.