Tuesday, August 15, 2017

4th Circuit: Federal Law Does Not Entitle Disabled Students To Education In Their Religious Traditions

In M.L. v. Smith, (4th Cir., Aug. 14, 2017), the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not require a public school system to instruct disabled Orthodox Jewish students in the customs and practices of their religion as part of the statutorily assured "free appropriate public education."  M.L.'s parents wanted his individualized education program to include instruction that would prepare M.L. for life in the Orthodox Jewish community.  The court concluded, however, that the school's only duty is to provide access to the same kind of secular education offered to others. Americans United issued a press release announcing the decision.