In Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret F., ___ U.S. ___ (March 3, 1999), the United States Supreme Court affirmed an Eighth Circuit decision requiring school districts to provide continuous nursing services that may assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. The Court ruled that, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), related services that do not require the training and judgment of a licensed physician are not classified as "medical services." Thus, they must be provided if needed by a child with a disability to benefit from special education.
The aforementioned Supreme Court decision should have little effect on current practices in the Arkansas public schools. Since the Eighth Circuit decision was handed down in this case, the Arkansas Department of Education, Special Education Unit has advised all districts to provide related services to children with disabilities when such services are needed by the child to benefit from special education and do not require the attention of a physician. It is important to note that the provision by the district of related services may include full-time nursing care, regardless of cost.
The text of the Cedar Rapids case may be found online at http://laws.findlaw.com/US/000/96-1793.html. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please contact the Special Education Unit.