Close Window

School Districts of Residence Must Serve Students with Disabilities in Community Corrections Facilities and Juvenile Detention Centers

Over the past decade, McGown & Markling has been surprised by the number of school districts of residence that refuse or fail to provide special education and related services to their students in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (“IDEA”) and accompanying federal and state laws, regulations, and guidelines. In many situations, school districts of residence have refused to even bear the cost of educating these students as mandated by court orders pursuant to R.C. 2151.362, which provides that “the court shall determine the school district that is to bear the cost of educating the child,” that “the court shall make the determination a part of the order that provides for the child’s placement or commitment,” and “that this school district shall bear the cost of educating the child.”

In response to the disregard some school districts of residence have taken with respect to their obligations to provide special education and related services to their students in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers, as well as their failure to bear the cost of educating these students, the Ohio Department of Education Office for Exceptional Children (“ODE”) issued ODE-OEC MEMO #2016-1, a copy of which can be viewed by clicking here.

Note that ODE-OEC MEMO #2016-1 does not apply to students confined to shelter care or residential programs

  • “Both federal and state laws require that every student with a disability receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). This includes students who are in community corrections facilities or juvenile detention centers.”
  • “The school district of residence (defined as the school district in which the student’s parents reside) maintains the ultimate responsibility to provide FAPE to the student. The school district of residence remains responsible for the student’s access to appropriate special education and related services while the student is in a community corrections facility or juvenile detention center.”
  • “It remains the ultimate responsibility of the district of residence to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving the services to which they are entitled pursuant to their individualized education programs (IEPs).”
  • “All districts must have child find policies and procedures in place to identify, locate and evaluate students in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers who may have a disability and may need special education and related services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). When there is suspicion that a student has a disability and is in need of special education and related services, the district of residence must evaluate that student. The evaluation must occur in a timely manner and comply with all state requirements. This is the district’s obligation, even if the student will not be in the facility long enough to complete the evaluation.”
  • “Absent a specific exception, all individualized education program (IEP) requirements apply to students with disabilities in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers. School districts must have policies and procedures to transfer, as quickly as possible, relevant records of students with disabilities who transition to or from community corrections facilities or juvenile detention centers. Relevant records include copies of the IEP, the evaluation team report, and any other records related to the provision of special education and related services to the student. School districts should assign specific staff the responsibility to work with facility staff in the prompt transfer of records.”
  • “School districts must ensure that all students with disabilities, including students with disabilities in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers, have access to appropriate educational services. These students must receive to the greatest extent feasible services in the least restrictive environment. Personnel providing special education and related services to students with disabilities in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers must be appropriately and adequately trained and must meet state qualifications, as well as the requirements specified in IDEA. Regardless of the student’s length of stay in these facilities, the student must receive all special education services as required by the student’s IEP team. This includes the provision of related services. School districts must ensure that students with disabilities, including those in community corrections facilities and juvenile detention centers, are included appropriately in general state and districtwide assessments. Students must receive accommodations as outlined in their IEPs.”

Authors: Matthew John Markling and Patrick Vrobel

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *