Child with head on desk

Can Students With An IEP Receive a Failing Grade?

A student eligible for special education is entitled to certain protections outlined in the IDEA (in disciplinary matters, for example), but the right to obtain a particular grade is not specified anywhere in these protections.  The purpose of the IDEA is “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, independent living.” 

The United States Supreme Court has articulated that “…the intent of the [IDEA] was more to open the doors of public education to [children with disabilities] on appropriate terms than to guarantee any particular level of education once inside.”  [Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, 455 U.S. 175, 102 S. Ct. 3034, (1982)]

Thus, an IEP is not a contract, and a school cannot be held liable if a student does not perform at a certain level.  The assignment of grades is not something that can be determined by an IEP team and included in a child’s IEP.

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