Seventh Circuit Review


Currently, the federal appeals courts use different tests when examining state compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a Spending Clause statute meant to give students with disabilities meaningful educational instruction. The IDEA requires states receiving federal funds for special education to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) to each eligible student with a disability. Though there are varying tests used by the appeals courts, they can be lumped into two main categories: a reasonableness test and a factor test. The Seventh Circuit in Board of Education v. Ross adopted a reasonableness test, which finds that a school district is LRE-compliant when it takes "reasonable measures" to provide a student with a disability a "satisfactory education" in a "conventional" school. In contrast, the Third Circuit in Oberti v. Board of Education adopted a factor test that, by application, requires courts to intrude into the province of school officials. This Note argues that the Seventh Circuit's test implements congressional intent better than the Third Circuit's test by examining the language of the IDEA, pertinent Supreme Court precedent, and empirical studies. In addition, it compares the outcome of a district court case applying the Third Circuit's test with the outcome that court would have reached if it applied the Seventh Circuit's test, to show that the Seventh Circuit's outcome is more appropriate.

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ReasonableMeasures.mp3 (2163 kB)
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