Reimbursement for Parents’ Unilateral Placement of their Children in Private Schools in the Wake of Forest Grove

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Education Law Reporter


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with disabilities, reimbursement, private school, idea, Forest Grove


In Forest Grove School District v. T.A., the Supreme Court was faced with a challenge under the IDEA as to whether parents who unilaterally place their children with disabilities in private facilities can be eligible for reimbursement if the children had not received special education services prior to the placement. In its Forest Grove decision, the Court rejected a school district position, relying on explicit language in the 1997 amendments to the IDEA, that reimbursement would be available only for students “who previously received special education and related services under the authority of a public agency.” The school district had reasoned that, because the student in Forest Grove had never received special education services, the parents should have been required to exhaust their administrative remedies through a due process hearing.

This article provides an overview and analysis of the litigation involving parental reimbursement since the Court's Forest Grove decision. It begins with a review of the Court's opinion and continues with a discussion of lower court decisions, including Forest Grove on remand. The article ends with an analysis and conclusions.


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