1. Attorneys Should Provide Strong Evaluations and Data to the School in Support of a CSEC
By providing evaluations and other data available about the child’s new needs to the
school as soon as possible166 and requesting that the materials be reviewed to determine the
child’s eligibility for special education related services, the school will be better prepared to
address the needs of the child. In Anne’s case, one way to expedite Anne’s claim for services
would have been for Anne’s mother to provide the school district with Anne’s evaluations from
residential treatment before she returned to the school district. 167 The school could have then
collaborated with the staff at the residential treatment facility to find Anne eligible for services,
and develop an IEP for her before she returned to the school district. If evaluations or data are
unavailable for the child, then parents and advocates may also request that the school evaluate the
child for special education and related services, 168 and may do so even if the child is in an out-of-
state facility at the time the parents request the evaluation. 169
While not possible in all cases, in the authors’ experience, the strongest advocacy around
evaluations often occurs when the parent, advocate, or attorney is able to work with the evaluator
(after the parent has requested the evaluation) to directly incorporate the child’s needs as a
commercially sexually exploited child within the evaluator’s recommendations for educational
services. A strong evaluation will not only address the hallmark symptoms of a particular mental
health condition but, where the child has been unavailable for learning due to truancy or running
away, can also provide a clinical context for these behaviors and establish the IDEA-required link
between a child’s unavailability for learning and his or her disability. 170
2. Trace the Complex Needs of a CSEC Survivor Back to the Basic Floor of Educational
Schools are able, under the IDEA, to provide special education and related services to
address the complex needs of CSEC survivors, as long as the child needs those services to receive
the basic floor of educational opportunity. 171 In Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central
School District v. Rowley, the Supreme Court held that children with special education needs are
only entitled to the services that provide them with this basic floor of educational opportunity. 172
Accordingly, children are entitled to the basic special education and related services that meet
their needs as a unique child with a disability, and what constitutes a basic floor varies from child
to child. 173
166 In the authors’ experience, sometimes a child will be returned to the community immediately (and without the opportunity to be
evaluated). However, where the child has been detained, hospitalized, or placed in a residential treatment facility prior to being
released to the community, it may be best to advocate that he or she be evaluated at that facility, so that evaluation can be used to
support school-based services when the child returns to the community and re-enrolls in school.
167 Under the IDEA, a child’s placement in residential treatment in another jurisdiction does not necessarily change the identity of his
or her school district, because residency is what determines a child’s school district (as opposed to where a child is physically located).
See D.C. v. Abramson, 493 F. Supp. 2d 80, 84-86 (D.D.C. 2007).
168 34 C.F.R. § 300.301(b).
169 Abramson, 493 F. Supp. 2d at 82, 84-86.
170 Dep’t of Educ., State of Haw. v. Cari Rae S., 158 F. Supp. 2d 1190, 1195 (D. Haw. 2001).
171 See Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 201 (1982); Cari Rae S., 158 F. Supp. 2d at 1196
(interpreting Rowley to obligate states to not only “provide a basic floor of opportunity and confer some educational benefit, [but] also
requires a program individually designed to provide [such] benefit”) (internal quotation marks omitted).
172 Rowley, 458 U.S. at 201. “[A] basic floor of opportunity [ ] would bring into compliance all school districts with the constitutional
right of equal protection with respect to handicapped children.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, “the ‘basic floor of
opportunity’ provided by the Act consists of access to specialized instruction and related services which are individually designed to
provide educational benefit to the handicapped child.” Id.
173 See 34 C.F.R. § 300.39 (“Special education means specially designed instruction…to meet the unique needs of a child with a