School can't force child to take Ritalin

August 08, 1991|By Boston Globe

CONCORD, N.H. -- A federal judge's ruling that state and local education officials violated a student's rights by insisting he take Ritalin to attend mainstream classes is being hailed by children's rights advocates and civil libertarians as a victory for the educationally handicapped.

In a case that has attracted national attention, U.S. District Court Judge Martin F. Loughlin ruled yesterday that the Derry Cooperative School District broke federal laws by barring Casey Jesson, now 12, from regular classrooms unless he took Ritalin against his parents' wishes.

Casey's "right to a free appropriate education could not be premised on the condition that he be medicated without his parents' consent," Loughlin wrote. He ordered the school district to compensate Casey with 7 1/2 months of education after he completes high school and also ordered the school district to pay the Jessons' legal fees and to design and fund an individual education plan for Casey.

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