CSEC can have a devastating impact on a child’s physical and mental health.141 Further,
if the child was exposed to drugs during exploitation, this may also impact the child’s brain
development even after returning to the community and receiving treatment services.142 All of
these conditions may severely impair or alter a student’s capacity and attention for learning.
Hence, a child who previously did not require specialized services may meet the criteria for
eligibility during or after being commercially exploited.
Pursuant to the IDEA, 143 the state must provide a free and appropriate education to all
children with disabilities, working to meet the unique needs of each child. 144 To receive special
education services, a child must not only have a disability that meets the IDEA criteria, 145 but the
student must also be adversely impacted in the educational setting as a result of that disability, to
the extent that the student requires special education or other services to receive an “educational
benefit” 146 in school. 147 In determining whether a child is adversely impacted by his or her
disability, a review of a student’s academic achievement alone is not sufficient, as “[e]ducational
performance means more than a child’s ability to meet academic criteria. It must also include
reference to the child’s development of communication skills, social skills, and personality.” 148
If a child is adversely impacted by his or her disability in the educational setting, the
child’s school must provide services to meet the child’s needs through an Individualized
Education Program (“IEP”). 149 An IEP is a document that provides a roadmap for how a
student’s services150 should be delivered, including: the student’s current level of functioning, the
student’s goals in each academic area (and, where applicable, social, emotional, occupational, or
other area), which specific services the child needs, and where the child will receive those
services. 151 While the IDEA mandates that all students receive a FAPE, it also lays out
procedures for how a parent, educational decision maker (e.g., a guardian or foster parent), or
school district may take action if the parent and the school disagree about what constitutes a
FAPE for an individual student. 152 If a parent disagrees with a school’s actions in providing a
FAPE, or if the parent and the school district disagree about the child’s eligibility, the parent may
141 WALKER, supra note 26, at 16; see also A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE, supra note 110, at 12-13 (describing the correlation
between deviant behavior, truancy, and poor mental and physical health).
142 See L.M. Squeglia et al., The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development, 40 CLINICAL EEG & NEUROSCI. 31, 32
(2009) (discussing the impact of alcohol and marijuana use on cognitive processing and development); DrugFacts: MDMA (Ecstasy
or Molly), NAT’L INST. ON DRUG ABUSE (Sept. 2013), http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/mdma-ecstasy. In the
authors’ experience, services provided to CSEC survivors can take a wide variety of forms, and may be contingent upon the funding
available through the child’s health insurance or the court system. Treatment services for commercially sexually exploited children
can include: individual therapy, group therapy, intensive home-based therapy, psychotropic medication, survivor-led activities or
placement in a psychiatric residential treatment facility.
143 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1400 (West 2014).
144 See Rowley, 458 U.S. at 182; 34 C.F.R. § 300.39(a)(1) (defining “special education” as “specially designed instruction … to meet
the unique needs of a child with a disability”).
145 20 U.S.C.A. § 1414(b)(4); see supra Part III (B)(1)( i) for a discussion of disability classifications.
146 Rowley established that in order to determine whether a child was receiving educational benefit (or could receive educational
benefit as a result of appropriate versus inappropriate school programming) it must be determined whether a student was able to make
meaningful progress or gains in his or her area of need. Rowley, 458 U.S. at 200-02.
147 See 34 C.F.R. § 300.8 (a)(1)-(2)( i).
148 See Mr. & Mrs. I. v. Me. Sch. Admin. Dist. No. 55, No. 04-165-P-H, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11401, at *55 (quoting Mary P. v. Ill.
State Bd. of Educ., 919 F. Supp. 1173, 1180 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (internal quotation marks omitted)).
149 See 34 C.F.R. § 300.320(a).
150 Services on an IEP can include specialized instruction in a separate classroom (“pull out” or “resource”) or in the same classroom
(“inclusion”), counseling, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physical therapy and any other service a child may need
to receive educational benefit. See Related Services, NAT’L DISSEMINATION CTR. FOR CHILD. WITH DISABILITIES,
http://nichcy.org/schoolage/iep/iepcontents/relatedservices (last updated Mar. 2013).
151 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.320(a)-300.324.