A Nuanced Approach to the Disability Integration Presumption

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2008


This paper responds to Ruth Colker, The Disability Integration Presumption: Thirty Years Later, 154 U. PA. L. REV. 789 (2006). I disagree with Professor Colker's proposal that the statutory presumption that children with disabilities be educated to the maximum extent with children without disabilities should not be applied or should be applied only in a weakened form when a school district offers a continuum of separate and integrated placements and provides supplementary services in regular classes. Although I believe that Professor Colker's proposal misinterprets the statutory language and would educationally and socially disadvantage children with and without disabilities if it were adopted, I believe that the presumption in favor of integrated placements should not be applied in a simple-minded way. Under a nuanced approach to the presumption, if the school is arguing for integration, the presumption ought to carry some, though not very great, weight. If the parent is arguing for integration, the presumption should be much stronger. Moreover, in all cases involving integration, the emphasis should be on the nature and quality of the supplemental aids and services offered the child in the integrated setting.