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Disabled EducationA Critical Analysis of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act$
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Ruth Colker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814708101

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814708101.001.0001

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Brian Schaffer

Brian Schaffer

(p.109) 6 Brian Schaffer
Disabled Education

Ruth Colker

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on the story of Brian Schaffer, who was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the age of seven, to show how difficult it is for any child to prevail under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Brian's case was brought after Congress amended the IDEA in 1997, and again in 2004, in various ways that were supposed to benefit students with disabilities. Yet Brian's case reveals a cumbersome legal process that rarely produces success even for children with highly involved parents and qualified legal counsel. This chapter discusses two reasons why Brian's case is crucial for all parents challenging an individualized education program (IEP). First, the Supreme Court has held that the burden of proof should fall on parents when challenging the adequacy of their child's IEP. Second, the lower courts that handled this case interpreted the Rowley adequacy standard as creating a very low threshold for a school district despite the 2004 IDEA amendments.

Keywords:   individualized education program, Brian Schaffer, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with disabilities, Supreme Court, burden of proof, parents, school district

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