file a due process complaint (with or without counsel) 153 against the school and request an
informal administrative hearing over the dispute, before an impartial hearing officer. 154 The
hearing officer then has the authority to affirm the school’s decision, or overrule the decision155
and ultimately require that the school take the actions requested by the parent, including: finding
a child eligible for services; developing an IEP for the child; 156 ordering the school district to pay
for the student to attend a non-public school program; 157 providing additional services (known as
“compensatory education”) to address any harm that has come to the child from not receiving
appropriate services previously. 158
As noted above, as a consequence of a child’s CSEC experience, the child may return to
the community with a new mental health diagnosis that requires significant school-based
intervention. Further, even if a child who remains in school is suspected of currently being a
victim of CSEC by a child’s teachers, parents, or school-based service providers (as opposed to
returning to the community after having been commercially sexually exploited), school-based
services may still be necessary to help the child. 159 The following sections explore specific
advocacy strategies and obstacles to addressing potential special education needs of students who
have survived, or still are experiencing commercial sexual exploitation.
ii. Case study: Anne
Anne160 is a sixteen-year-old high school sophomore who has just returned to school after
being abducted at age fourteen by a stranger and commercially sexually exploited for several
months. Anne spent one year in an out-of-state residential treatment facility before returning to
her community and school district. Anne did not share much information about her exploitation
with her treatment providers, but assessments following her return to the community indicated
that she was frequently given drugs and was psychologically and physically abused during the
period in which she was being commercially sexually exploited. During her time in residential
treatment, Anne was diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including PTSD.
Although Anne was removed from the traditional school settings for almost two years
between her exploitation and residential treatment, the doctors and therapists at her residential
program made several observations about the impact of Anne’s new diagnosis. Anne frequently
has flashbacks that cause her to blackout and lose track of where she is. She often has panic
attacks when she hears loud noises, and she becomes anxious in public settings. Once a very
153 Id. A parent or educational decision maker in this situation may also want to hire a special education attorney or attorney who
practices special education law and is experienced in administrative litigation on IDEA matters. Parents can retain these attorneys at a
fee and some attorneys may take cases on a contingency basis.
154 There are no damages in claims under IDEA, but as relief the parent may request the school provide services, take the course of
action requested by the parent, and/or provide compensatory services to address any harm that has been caused to the child by the
delay in the child receiving the services. See Sch. Comm. of Town of Burlington, Mass. v. Dep't of Educ. of Mass., 471 U.S. 359, 369-
70 (1985) (holding that hearing officers have broad discretion under IDEA to award relief, including reimbursement for a non-public
educational program). However, remedies under IDEA will generally not include monetary compensatory or punitive damages
because they may not be in line with the purpose of the Act. See Anderson v. Thompson, 658 F.2d 1205, 1216-17 (7th Cir. 1981).
155 See Anatomy of a Special Education Case, WRIGHTSLAW, http://www.wrightslaw.com/advoc/articles/anatomy_case_jaynes.htm
(last visited Apr. 6, 2014).
156 See generally Scott v. D.C., No. Civ.A 03-1672 DAR, 2006 WL 1102839 (D.D.C. Mar. 31, 2006) (finding that the school District
erred in failing to identify, evaluate, and develop an IEP for a student even when the parent had agreed to the school district
attempting alternative intervention strategies).
157 See, e.g., Forest Grove Sch. Dist. v. T.A., 557 U.S. 230, 234, 246-47 (2009) (holding the parent was entitled to reimbursement from
the school district for placing a child in a residential treatment facility to address her learning needs, despite the child having never
received special education services previously).
158 See, e.g., Reid v. D.C., 401 F. 3d 516, 236 (D.C. Cir. 2005).
159 See supra text accompanying notes 143-151 (discussing the rights of all children with disabilities to have appropriate services in
place in school).
160 The case study of Anne does not represent an actual person, but is a composite from some of the children the authors have worked
with as well as case studies the authors have reviewed in the course of their research for this Article.