Over-Diagnosing Students with Disability: A Legal Risk or an Educational Safeguard?

Articles & Publications

December 6, 2013

Educators face complex liability issues involving the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“Rehabilitation Act”), and § 202 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Segal McCambridge Philadelphia shareholder Megan E. Grossman and Philadelphia senior associate Ryan G. Gatto shared insight on this subject in "Over-Diagnosing Students with Disability: A Legal Risk or an Educational Safeguard?," published online by The Legal Intelligencer on November 12, 2013.


In their column, Ms. Grossman and Mr. Gatto discuss an emerging area of law recently considered by the Third Circuit in S.H. v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 729 F.3d 248 (3d Cir. Pa. 2013), in which the defendant treated the plaintiff as if she had a disability when, in fact, she did not. Although the Court focused on educational law in its opinion, its comments on the meaning of “intentional discrimination” could be applied to other cases involving the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, including employment and civil rights. Ms. Grossman and Mr. Gatto analyze the Court’s opinion and explain the factors that a plaintiff must prove in order to recover monetary damages under the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. In an educational context, Ms. Grossman and Mr. Gatto examine when and if legal liability could accrue after a school “misdiagnoses” a non-disabled student and provides her with an educational program designed to account for her nonexistent disability.

View Document(s):