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July 11, 2016

Idaho Leads Revolution in School Flexibility

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SCOTT WOODRUFF Contact attorney for Idaho

On March 23, 2016, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed Senate Bill 1293 into law, mandating that Idaho public schools provide “reasonable accommodations” to meet all students’ individual needs. Homeschool students who dual enroll for classes or sports will also benefit.

This represents a revolution in public school law. Previously, only students with disabilities were entitled to reasonable accommodations. The new law gives all students the right to reasonable accommodations—even those who have no disability. Idaho appears to be the first state in the nation to require public schools to offer this level of flexibility to all students.

Schools are not required to provide accommodations, however, that would substantially impact staff, resources, safety, efficiency or supervision. Schools are required only to use their “best efforts,” and may “balance” a request for accommodation against the needs of other students, the teacher’s workload, and the impact to the classroom.

Public schools will never be able to match the way a homeschool program can be individually tailored to meet the needs of a student. But we congratulate the main sponsor of the bill, Senator Mary Souza, in bringing unprecedented flexibility into Idaho public schools.

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