Stuart v. Nappi
United States District Court, Danbury, Connecticut
Argued (Not provided); Decided January 4, 1978

Background: cv
Plaintiff, Kathy Stuart, was a third-year student at Danbury High School in Connecticut. Danbury’s school records depicted a profile of Stuart including items such as academic deficiency, learning disabilities, and frequent behavioral problems. The school wanted to expel Stuart due to her behavioral and academic problems. Stuart, on behalf of her parents, brought suit against school officials and the Danbury Board of Education seeking an injunction of an expulsion hearing. Stuart alleged that she was being denied guaranteed rights found under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (I.D.E.A.).

Decision and Rationale:
Stuart’s attorney obtained a court order enjoining the school board from conducting a hearing to expel the plaintiff. The court ultimately decided that expulsion was a “change in placement” inconsistent with I.D.E.A.’s procedural guidelines. However, the court did rule that school officials could substitute an expulsion with suspension when dealing with a student who met the criteria to be covered by I.D.E.A. Another alternative available to a school surrogating expulsion is to place an I.D.E.A.-protected student in a more restrictive environment by adhering to specific provisions found within I.D.E.A.

Teachers and administrators are not at liberty to dispose of special education students due to I.D.E.A. In fact, special education has undergone numerous other legislative transformations empowering the educational rigor associated with providing students with disabilities an equitable education to that of their “normal” peers. Teachers cannot permanently extract students with disabilities from their classrooms especially with strides made touting the benefits of inclusion. A teacher should immerse themselves into a mentality and teaching practice that incorporates relevant special education procedures as defined by the law in order to avoid lawsuits and other negative consequences.

Quiz Question:

In Stuart v. Nappi, plaintiff Kathy Stuart could not be expelled from her school because of the protection she received as a student with learning disabilities under what legislative act?

a. I.D.E.A.
b. I.E.DA.
c. I.A.E.D.
d. I.E.A.D.

*Completed Independently by Stephen Brooks

Submitted by Jose Ramirez
U.S. District Court, Connecticut
Argued: Not Stated
Decided January 4, 1978

Kathy Stuart, a third year high school student, who according to school records, had serious academic and emotional difficulties. Ms. Stuart was described as someone with limited intelligence and deficient skills brought on by a complex of learning disabilities. Ms. Stuart’s record also listed a history of behavioral problems. The school system’s record showed that her teachers along with school counselors determined that a psychological evaluation be given to her as well as referring her to a Planning Placement Team. The PPT determined Stuart of having a major learning disability, but a psychological evaluation was never administered. On September 14, 1977, Ms. Stuart was involved in a school disturbance and was suspended for ten days, but on November 30, 1977, at the disciplinary hearing the Superintendent recommended that she be expelled for the remainder of the school year.
The U.S District Court, decided in favor of Stuart, citing the Department of Health, Education and Welfare procedures, which implement regulations regarding the Handicapped Act. These procedures prohibit schools from using its normal procedures for dealing with children with disabilities who are endangering themselves or others. The Court agreed with the HEW’s reading of the Handicapped Act, which forbids the expulsion of handicapped children as a means of removing handicapped children from school grounds, if they become disruptive. The Act also expresses the right to an education in the “least restrictive environment”, which entitles handicapped children to be educated with non-handicapped children, whenever possible. Although the school system had a procedure to deal with Ms. Stuart, the PPT had not aligned their program to reflect the Handicapped Act, therefore the Board of Education was ordered to review their program, and stopped the expulsion.
This case was an eye opener for the school systems. Their actions were to protect the remainder of the student body; however they were violating the rights to a free education, to a student with a handicap. Our government has passed laws to protect students with disabilities and it is our duty as future educators to ensure that a free education, in the least restrictive environment, is offered. Teachers may be in control of their classrooms and may manage their students as they see fit, but they must also be aware of the laws which protect all our students.
The Education of the Handicapped Act (Handicapped Act) is a predecessor to which Federal law which governs how states and public agencies provide services to individuals with disabilities?

Sandra Hansen
Stuart v. Nappi
United States District Court, Connecticut
Argument Not Provided
Decided January 4, 1978

Background: Danbury High School desired to expel the plaintiff Kathy Stuart because of frequent behavioral problems. Stuart is a third-year high school student who suffered from many problems from learning disabilities to academic and emotional difficulties. She was required to have psychological evaluations given to her and she was referred to a Planning Placement Team also known as PPT. She was suspended for ten days as a result of a school disturbance. The school wanted to expel her for the remainder of the year. Stuart brought forth suit against the school because she was being denied her rights from the Handicapped Act.
Decision and Rationale: The court ruled in favor of Stuart partly because it the of federal regulations stating that “expulsion of handicapped children not only jeopardizes their right to an education in the least restrictive environment, but is inconsistent with the procedures established by the Handicapped Act for changing the placement of disruptive children.” It also states that handicapped students are only allowed to be transferred on the basis of their behavior dramatically impairing other children’s education.
Impact: The Handicapped Act prevents administrators and teacher from removing handicapped children from their schools based on their disabilities alone. The schools are required to give handicapped students a free education in a least restrictive environment possible. The laws provided in this case require the schools systems to educate and care for its students, but not at the expense of a few.
Quiz Question:
T/F The Handicapped Act allows schools to expel handicapped students as soon as they become a disruption.