New Mexico Court Ruling Emphasizes Importance of Services Offered by Behavioral Health Care Organizations

This week, a landmark decision was reached in the state of New Mexico regarding students with special needs. A lawsuit was filed in 2014 questioning whether the state was providing enough resources to ensure that public school students — many of whom have special needs, are English language learners, or are from low-income households — have a chance at success either in college or with careers once they leave school.

The court ruled that the state is violating the constitutional rights of these at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. This is the first decision in this area that mandates state-wide changes.

Similarly, the US Supreme Court ruled last year in Endrew vs. Douglas County that in order to uphold the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” In that particular case, the parents sued to recoup the costs of sending their child to a private school where he received a much higher quality education (as evidenced by the progress towards his IEP driven goals during that year) than the public school he had previously attended in Colorado (where progress had been very limited to a very basic and insufficient standard for several years).

These cases and decisions underscore why providers like Grafton are not only vital to our clients and their families, but also to local and state governments. We provide a level of specific resources and specialized services for a key population of students that are often under served by public schools due to inadequate training, staffing, and other restrictions. And although we are based in the state of Virginia, which does an excellent job creating an environment recognizing the needs of these individuals, Grafton is already accepting and helping clients from other states that have yet to adapt their public education models to meet the standard expected under the Endrew ruling.

We have successfully served students with special needs for the past 60 years, ever since our founder, Ruth Birch first wanted something more for her own son. Grafton was founded on the basis of providing services above and beyond what could feasibly be offered by traditional public school settings. Today, we still strive to form effective partnerships between our staff, the family and the schools to obtain the best possible outcomes for our clients.