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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Perkins' Case Review
Posted By Editor On February 26, 2009 @ 4:10 pm In Area News | Comments Disabled
By Laurie Hindman
Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Perkins family’s request to review their case against the Thompson School District. The Perkins sued the district claiming it had not provided their severely autistic son Luke with an appropriate education as defined by federal law. They requested the district pay for the private Boston Higashi School for Autism at an annual cost of $130,000. Luke has attended the school since 2004 and, according to his parents and school staff, has shown significant improvement in that time.
Although the controversial case caused often contentious debate both locally and throughout the state of Colorado, ripples were felt nationwide. At the center of the debate stood the question, “What is appropriate education?” Jack D. Robinson, attorney for the Perkins family stated they were disappointed the Supreme Court declined to shed much-needed light on the issue.
“Amendments to the IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] in 1997 totally changed the original statute of 1975,” stated Robinson. “Clarification is needed. What does it mean for a child with severe autism versus a child with dyslexia?”
The Perkins appealed to the Supreme Court after the 10th Circuit Court ruled in December the Thompson School District did not have to pay, rejecting the findings of three previous tribunals who had supported the Perkins.
For now, the Perkins are, “back to the drawing table.” Luke is now 12 and will require placement in a middle school. The Perkins need to meet with the school district to determine an appropriate education plan for Luke.
Robinson concluded that although they lost their final appeal, the case would still have far reaching affects. “Whether you agree with the Perkins or not, it makes people think statewide — if we do not give families what they need in order to provide an appropriate education for their child, we might face a legal battle. Sometimes people need to fight for their child’s rights. It is the only way things change.”
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