We’ve all heard it before—schools only must provide a “serviceable Chevrolet,” not a Cadillac, to afford a student a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The analogy is often associated with the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case known as Rowley, which said that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires only a “basic floor of opportunity,” not that schools “maximize” a child’s educational potential. The “Chevy vs. Cadillac” analogy was coined and used by lower courts after Rowley, and suggests that schools need only provide a bare minimum of services to afford a student FAPE. However, the Supreme Court in Endrew F. recently rejected such a “minimalist” interpretation of the IDEA. Since then, we have wondered about the continued applicability of the Chevy vs. Cadillac analogy—does it still have a place in special education law after Endrew F? We think not, and in this blog post we offer a better analogy for school leaders looking for a key to providing students FAPE. If you’d like to learn more, keep reading.
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It has been a year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Texas. As many media outlets are reporting, although the shooting was supposed to be the one that “changed everything,” threats to school safety continue to be a fact of life in American schools. Yet there is much that we can learn and do in this constantly-evolving area, particularly as it relates to students with special needs. How do you properly address school threats from students receiving special education? If you will be at IAASE, you can come discuss this and other student mental health concerns with Franczek attorneys Jennifer Smith and Mary Deweese during their February 21 session on Mental Health Support for Students: The Legal Framework. We also hope you will join us for a unique opportunity to discuss threat assessments during our complimentary half-day conference on Assessing Risk of Violence: Effectively Evaluating Threats to School Safety with Dr. Nancy Zarse, an expert on threat assessments, at Elmhurst College on February 28. In the meantime, this blog post addresses what we think is the key issue to consider when addressing school threats from students with special needs. Read on to confirm that you are complying with this essential consideration.

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A recent BBC news story reported that a seven-year-old boy with leukemia who cannot attend school in person will attend virtually using an AV1 robot. The story reminds us of some of the benefits of using virtual technology for students with special needs, such as keeping the student safe while allowing him to feel a part of the classroom. Franczek attorneys Kendra Yoch and Jennifer Smith will be leading an interactive discussion about team decisions regarding the use of technology at the upcoming IAASE conference this week in Springfield. But once a team decides that a virtual technology is appropriate for a student, what legal risks should they consider? As with most technology issues in the school realm, the risks are manageable but should not be ignored. For a quick checklist of five issues to consider if a team decides a student should use virtual technology in the classroom, continue reading!
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