Recently, the news headlines have been filled with stories about funding for public education. The School District of Philadelphia is in the midst of financial woes. The York City School District is dealing with receivership and is considering a full conversion to charter schools. Numerous charter schools have closed suddenly, including Wakisha Charter School and Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School, or are on the brink of closure. If a public school at which a special-education-eligible student is enrolled closes, where do the parents turn to obtain appropriate education for their children?
A recent case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania addressed the issue of whether Pennsylvania's Department of Education can be held responsible for a special education student's free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et seq., if the school that the student was attending becomes insolvent. In Charlene R. v. Solomon Charter School, --- F. Supp. 3d --- (2014), U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a decision in the action brought by the mother of a disabled student against Solomon Charter School, the charter school where the student attended, and the Department of Education, as the state education agency, alleging claims under the IDEA and breach of contract.