Mission: Inform Ohioans of effective steps to secure a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the State.
The trial court in DeRolph has laid the groundwork for the most significant expansion of educational opportunity in the history of U.S. public schools
The Conclusions of Law in the trial court of the DeRolph case have significantly expanded educational opportunity for all Ohio public school students by applying equal protection to the entitlements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
IDEA places many requirements on school districts which receive federal money to subsidize education of students with disabilities. The ones relevant to the following discussion are: A free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) which confers meaningful educational benefit in the least restrictive environment. Here's what the words mean:
The defendants have created and maintained an arbitrary distinction between classes of pupils without any rational basis by affording rights and benefits to some public school pupils based on the determination of a handicapping condition and denying the same rights and benefits to the remainder of the pupils in the state, in violation of the Ohio Constitution.
Just what are the "rights and benefits" denied non-handicapped students?
Judge Lewis also ruled that funding for both students with and without disabilities should be set through a rational basis which reflects the actual needs of the students:
The funding for special education students is required and there is no argument that these students need the services to which they are entitled. Likewise, there is no rational basis for funding the education of non-handicapped students at a funding level based on what remains after funding special education rather than being based on the actual needs of those nonhandicapped students. To so fund these students is a violation of their equal protection and due process rights.It is important to note that these are entitlements of individual students, not general guidelines for public education.
Unless the district is using value-added assessment to ensure compliance with these Constitutional mandates, there is a good chance that many students are not achieving a full year of academic growth for each year spent in school. Parents now have the option of moving such a child to a private school and recovering the tuition from the public school system.