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June 25, 2001
Forstrom v. Fair Lawn School District
Court rules home schooler entitled to special education related services

Filed: February 5, 1998, Bergen County.

Nature of Case: The Forstroms' son was denied speech therapy, despite state law requiring such services for "nonpublic" school students and federal law requiring such services for "private" school students.

Rulings:
10/29/99—The trial court ruled in favor of the Forstroms, ordering the child to benefit from both state and federal funding. The school district and State Department of Education appealed.

5/21/01—The appellate division unanimously affirmed the trial court's order to provide speech and language services to Gregory Forstrom. Though the court concluded that a home school is not a "nonpublic school" for state special education benefits, nor a "private school" for federal special education benefits, the denial of speech and language benefits to Gregory was a violation of equal protection. Because Gregory was willing to come to the public school to receive the therapy in a group setting, and since the public school was already providing services on public school premises to private school students, there was no rational basis for treating him differently from private schoolers who would receive those same services. Since this is typically the kind of service that our members want, and the kind of service that the federal funds provide, the case is a victory for home schoolers.

Last Updated: June 25, 2001.

 Other Resources

Court Opinion in Forstrom v. Fair Lawn School District