Special ed is a mess

Special education is “a litigious mess,” writes lawyer Chris Borreca in The Atlantic. When IDEA, the disability rights law, is reauthorized, Congress should adopt a dispute resolution system using specialist courts, he suggests.

A threshold requirement of mandatory mediation before a lawsuit may be filed could be added. A reasonable cap on attorney fees should be explored. Clarity of the very legal rights described should be added to the statute itself.

In other words, a degree of common sense added to the entire system — with an emphasis on services received rather than an unending amount of due process provided for every alleged wrongdoing — would go a long way toward serving the original intent of the law.

Miriam K. Freedman, also a lawyer, tackles reforming special ed in the University of Chicago Law Review.

The current system favors wealthy parents, writes Dr. Manhattan, who likes Romney’s plan to make federal disability dollars follow the student.

About Joanne


  1. Anonymous says:

    “A reasonable cap on attorney fees should be explored.” Only if they cap how much the schools are allowed to spend on attorneys. A cap would be great for the school, fight it until the parent has spent up to the cap, then keep fighting until they decide they can’t afford it, even if they win.

  2. Lightly Seasoned says:

    Ugh. Amen.

  3. therese says:

    My kid was so stressed out due to his learning disabilities and anxiety in a school system that caters primarily to overachievers by 1st grade that he threatened to burn the school down and shoot the principal. Lots of resources appear when that happens – private teachers, private schools, whatever you need!

  4. Most K-12 school districts in the United States spends 70% of their student budget on 10-15% of their students (the Special Ed students). The brilliant students and overachievers? They’re lucky to get spent on them what the ‘middle-of-the-road’ students get spent on them. And yet, all that money spent on such a small percentage of students has yielded no results helpful to this country at all. At what point do we start deciding that this is illogical and destructive?