MDSEL Attorneys Sworn Into Supreme Court Bar Before FGPS v T.A. Case
Patrick J. Hoover, one of the new members of the Supreme Court Bar, along with the other newly sworn members of the Bar and other attorneys from MDSEL, sat steps away from the nine Supreme Court justices during the heated oral arguments in the Forest Grove Public Schools v. T.A. case.
Forest Grove, the most recent special education case to come before the Court, presented the school district’s appeal of the earlier decisions affirming that T.A., a young boy with ADD and emotional disabilities, was entitled to reimbursement of private tuition costs incurred by his parents. When the Forest Grove school district refused to find T.A. eligible for special education services under the IDEA, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, T.A.’s parents placed him in a special private school that accommodated his special needs. The Oregon hearing officer as well as the federal courts below found that Forest Grove school district was wrong in their determination that T.A. was not disabled. Forest Grove’s attorney argued to the Supreme Court that it should not have to pay for T.A.’s special education private placement tuition because the school district had not initially approved nor provided special education services to T.A. at the time T.A. was enrolled into the private treatment program. It should be noted that by the time T.A. was placed at his parent’s expense in private school, on two separate prior occasions,t he school district wrongly refused to find T.A. was eligible for special education services; a finding that was overturned through due process appeal, affirmed in federal court and now acknowledged by the school district.
With the exception of Justice Thomas, the Court asked a number of probing questions of the appellate attorneys, and of the Department of Education attorney, who spoke as “friend of the court” in support of T.A.’s position.
Of real concern to the MDSEL group and to other parents and advocates who attended the oral argument was the aggressive questioning from Justices Scalia and Roberts AND the skeptical statements from the bench by Justice Kennedy who, as a swing vote, will likely cast the deciding vote.