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Thursday, April 06, 2006

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Lisa

Interesting concept. I can't imagine that there is legal precedent for awarding damages in this sort of case. What would be the standard of proof? And how exactly would a school defend against such a suit? Would the school's attorney, for example, be able to admit uncompleted homework or classwork, or even attendance and disciplinary records, as evidence that the plaintiff didn't take sufficient advantage of what was offered? Would it all hinge on whether there was an IEP that wasn't followed? If so, I wonder if that would discourage schools from filing IEPs in the first place, reasoning that if they state the student's needs in writing, it could be used against them later on in court.

I also wonder how they would calculate "lost earnings" considering a job market in which even literate college graduates can have a hard time finding work.

I don't know. As much as it's clear to me that the school failed this individual and that he has a right to be angry, I'm uncomfortable with the theory that every single child is must end up with the same level of skill and earning potential (and what about all those gifted artists and skilled workers whose fields have little to do with what they were taught in school?). I can easily imagine a scenario in which a moderately disabled child wants to attend high school with his or her peers, but is discouraged from doing so because the current level of skill is that of a functionally illiterate person, and the school doesn't want to be sued. It could end up backfiring and discouraging inclusion of special needs students whom schools have pegged as not being able to complete all the requirements.

I guess it all hinges on whether the law is designed to exclude students with low skills from achieving diplomas, or is attempting to force school districts to implement better reading programs or at least retain students who aren't meeting standards.

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