Timothy W. v. Rochester, New Hampshire School District

875 F.2d 954 (1989)

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Timothy W. v. Rochester, New Hampshire School District

United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
875 F.2d 954 (1989)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

Timothy W. (plaintiff) was a child in the Rochester School District of New Hampshire (district) (defendant). Timothy was born prematurely, and due to complications, Timothy was severely disabled and suffered from developmental difficulties, spastic quadriplegia, cerebral palsy, seizures, and cortical blindness. As part of Timothy’s individualized education program (IEP), educational consultants recommended specific special education services and goal-setting for motor control, communication, socialization, and daily living skills. However, Timothy did not receive any educational programming from the district when he reached school age. The district decided that because Timothy’s disabilities were so severe, Timothy was not capable of benefitting from an education and was, therefore, not entitled to one under state and federal law. The New Hampshire Department of Education (department) reviewed the decision and instructed the district to immediately place Timothy, finding that the district could not use Timothy’s perceived capability of receiving educational benefits as a criterion for eligibility. The district ignored the department’s order, and Timothy’s family filed suit in federal district court. Timothy alleged that the district violated state law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. The district court found that to be eligible for an education under the IDEA and state law, a child had to have the ability to benefit from special education. Timothy appealed the decision to the First Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bownes, J.)

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