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Law School Case Brief

Bd. of Educ. v. Rowley - 458 U.S. 176, 102 S. Ct. 3034 (1982)

Rule:

The statutory definition of "free appropriate public education," under the Education of the Handicapped Act (act), 20 U.S.C.S. § 1401 et seq., The "basic floor of opportunity" provided by the act consists of access to specialized instruction and related services which are individually designed to provide educational benefit to the handicapped child. The grading and advancement system constitutes an important factor in determining educational benefit.

Facts:

 Petitioners, school district, county, and others, appealed the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which interpreted the Education of the Handicapped Act (act), 20 U.S.C.S. § 1401 et seq., to require that states must maximize the potential of handicapped students such as respondents, a student and others by providing an interpreter for such students. The school district contended that the court of appeals misconstrued the Act, alleging that the Act did not require this level of services. 

Issue:

Did the lower courts err in their interpretation of the Education of the Handicapped Act?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that (1) the lower courts erred when they held that the act required states to maximize the potential of each handicapped child commensurate with the opportunity provided non-handicapped children. The Court further ruled that insofar as the school district was required to provide a handicapped child with a "free appropriate public education," it had satisfied that requirement by providing personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit the student to benefit educationally from that instruction.

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