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What is compensatory education?

August 19, 2014 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

What is it?

Compensatory education is generally defined as a remedy owed to children with a disability who have been denied, a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Compensatory education may include summer services, additional therapy hours, or other measures that make the student whole for past violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by the School District. Compensatory education is intended to be a onetime offer to compensate for past denial of FAPE and doesn’t relieve the School District of providing FAPE on a go forward basis. Thus, compensatory education should be in addition to the necessary services to provide the child FAPE in the current or future Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Read the rest of this entry →

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MC v. Central Regional School District 81 F.3d 389, 21 IDELR 389

October 28, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

M. C.; AND G. C.,
Argued:  November 14, 1995
Before: BECKER, SCIRICA, Circuit Judges, and
COHILL, District Judge1
(Filed  April 17, l996)
BECKER, Circuit Judge.

This case arises under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2).  Pursuant to IDEA, a school district is required to provide a disabled child with a "free appropriate education."  20 U.S.C. § 1400(c).  J.C., a severely mentally retarded sixteen-year-old male, has attended the Ocean County Day Training Center ("OCDTC") since 1987.  In 1992, concerned about the appropriateness of their son's instruction, J.C.'s father and stepmother, M.C. and G.C. ("plaintiffs"), began proceedings to secure both a residential placement for J.C. and compensatory education beyond his twenty-first year to make up for what they believed to be long-standing deficiencies in his program.  In 1995, the district court ordered that J.C. be relocated to a residential school, but refused to award compensatory education because it found that the defendant, Central Regional School District ("Central Regional," "school district," or "district"), had, in good faith, provided J.C. with some educational program.  Central Regional now appeals the residential placement, and plaintiffs cross-appeal the determination regarding compensatory education. Read the rest of this entry →

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Reid v. District of Columbia 401 F.3d 516, 43 IDELR 32

October 28, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Gwendolyn REID, as mother and next friend of Mathew Reid, a minor, Appellant


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, a Municipal Corporation, Appellee

No. 04-7051.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

Argued February 10, 2005.

Decided March 25, 2005.


When a school district deprives a disabled child of free appropriate public education in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a court fashioning “appropriate” relief, as the statute allows, may order compensatory education, i.e., replacement of educational services the child should have received in the first place. This commonsense proposition — conceded by the school district here and supported by the Supreme Court’s decision compelling reimbursement for such services in School Committee of the Town of Burlington, Massachusetts v. Department of Education of Massachusetts, 471 U.S. 359, 105 S.Ct. 1996, 85 L.Ed.2d 385 (1985) — led a hearing officer to award appellant, a sixteen-year-old with severe learning disabilities, 810 hours of compensatory education, one hour for each day in the four-and-a-half years during which the school system denied the student appropriate instruction. Pointing out that neither reasoning nor evidence supported this hour-per-day calculation and insisting that hour-per-hour relief was instead the child’s due, the child and his mother argue that the hearing officer abused his authority. They also challenge the officer’s decision to allow the child’s “individualized education program team” to reduce or discontinue compensatory services “on the decision of the IEP team that Minor no longer needs or is not benefitting from this compensatory education.” Because we agree that the hearing officer’s mechanical calculation merits no deference and that the IEP team delegation violates the statute, we reverse the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the school district. We reject, however, appellants’ equally mechanical hour-per-hour calculation and instead adopt a qualitative standard: compensatory awards should aim to place disabled children in the same position they would have occupied but for the school district’s violations of IDEA. Read the rest of this entry →

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OSEP Letter to Margaret Kohn, 17 EHLR 522 (1990)

October 28, 2011 in Special Education Advisor Blog by Doug Goldberg

Ms. Margaret A. Kohn
Bogan and Eig
Attorneys at Law
Suite 330
1400 Sixteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036

 Digest of Inquiry

(July 10, 1990)

• Is compensatory education a proper means to provide FAPE to a child with disabilities who was previously denied an appropriate education?

• Does a hearing officer have the authority to award compensatory education to a child with disabilities who has been denied FAPE?

• May a child be awarded summer school programming as compensatory education, as opposed to extending his/her special education beyond the maximum age of entitlement? Read the rest of this entry →

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