focused student, she now struggles to concentrate on her schoolwork, as she becomes easily
distracted by noises or other stimuli.
Anne’s educational decision maker, 161 her mother, immediately provides Anne’s school
with the evaluations that diagnose Anne with PTSD, and requests that she be provided special
education and related services. Due to Anne’s tendencies to panic in group settings, Anne’s
mother requests that the school provide Anne with a full-time IEP, be put in a separate special
education setting, and be provided extensive behavioral support services. Anne’s school refuses,
and instead argues that Anne has been unavailable for learning. Further, the school argues that
while Anne may need more services than she did prior to her CSEC experience, the school cannot
remove her from her non-disabled (or “typically developing”) classroom and put her in a separate
setting without some indication from Anne that she needs a more restrictive environment. Anne’s
mother is worried, however, that putting Anne in a large setting without appropriate support
services will result in Anne missing more time in school because of her fear of being in a large
public setting with many other children.
Anne’s mother may request that her child be found eligible for services, or file a due
process hearing against the school for failing to find Anne eligible for services and for failing to
provide her with an appropriate educational placement. 162 In response, the school may argue
several points to support its denial of the level of services requested by Anne’s mother. First, the
school may claim that while Anne now has a disability, Anne has not been available for learning
or placed in a school setting where she has demonstrated her education is adversely impacted by
her disability. The school may also assert that Anne’s inability to learn is possibly due to other
factors, 163 including her trafficking experience
Unsurprisingly, there does not appear to be a body of established IDEA-rooted case law
specific to CSEC survivors, given that the domestic aspect of the issue has only received
increased attention in the last decade. Instead, parents, educational decision makers, and
advocates for CSEC survivors may draw from the IDEA and existing parallel case law to
advocate for the needs of the CSEC survivor in the school setting. General case law supporting a
parent’s right to demand appropriate services to meet a child’s current level of need (rather than
mandating the school be allowed to gradually build up to more services) may be useful. 164
C. Using IDEA to Address the Educational Impact of CSEC
Child survivors of CSEC with disabilities have the same right as any other student with a
disability to receive special education and related services reasonably calculated to provide an
educational benefit. 165 This next section will explore some advocacy strategies for ensuring that
the needs of CSEC survivors are met in the school setting.
161 Under the IDEA, children do not hold their own special education rights until they have reached the age of majority. 34 C.F.R. §
300.520(a) (2014). Different jurisdictions, however, have different local regulations as to how and when rights transition to the student
when he or she reaches adulthood. For example, in the District of Columbia, children automatically become their own educational
decision makers when they turn eighteen. D.C. MUN. REGS. tit. 5, §3009.7 (2013). All children with disabilities are entitled to receive
special education services through age twenty-one, if they have not graduated with a regular high school diploma, see 34 C.F.R. §
300.101(a), although some jurisdictions have extended this to age twenty-two. See D.C. MUN. REGS. tit. 5, § 3002.1(c) (maintaining a
student’s eligibility for services until his or her twenty-second birthday).
162 See 34 C.F.R. § 300.507(a); see also supra text accompanying notes 152-158 (discussing a student’s eligibility under the IDEA for
special education services, and the due process complaints available to students and their parents who disagree with the services a
163 See 34 C.F.R. § 300.8(c)(4).
164 See generally Forest Grove Sch. Dist. v. T.A., 557 U.S. 230 (2009) (holding that a child could be entitled to placement and funding
at one of the most restrictive, high service educational settings (a residential treatment facility) despite previously having not been
found eligible for special education and related services by the school district).