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Beth B. v. Van Clay

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
282 F.3d 493 (2002)


Beth B. (plaintiff) was a student in the Lake Bluff School District (the district) (defendant). Beth had a neurological disorder that resulted in severe disabilities. Beth was nonverbal and communicated with an instrument called an eye gaze. Beth used a wheelchair and had an extreme lack of control over her body movement. Beth could not read or recognize numbers. Beth’s estimated cognitive ability was between that of a one-year-old and that of a six-year-old. Beth had been educated in a regular classroom for seven years, with a one-on-one aide. Beth was not making any academic progress and made very little developmental progress in the regular classroom. After her second-grade year, the district recommended that Beth be placed in an educational life skills (ELS) setting. The ELS program placed children with disabilities in regular classroom settings for music, library, art, computer, and some science and social-studies classes. The ELS students also interacted with regular-education students during recess, assemblies, field trips, and lunch. Regular-education students also routinely came into the other ELS classes to interact with the children with disabilities. The ELS program provided for a one-to-one student-to-teacher ratio. Beth’s parents disagreed with the proposed placement and appealed to a state hearing officer under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Beth’s parents invoked the stay-put provision of the IDEA, which allowed Beth to remain in the regular classroom during the appeal. The hearing officer upheld the district’s decision. Beth and her parents appealed to the district court, which affirmed. Beth and her parents then appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Flaum, C.J.)

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