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shortSlippery Rock UniversityCollege of Education, Special Education DepartmentSPED-611-89 – Special Education LawSpring 2024Unit 2:


Slippery Rock University

College of Education, Special Education Department

SPED-611-89 – Special Education Law

Spring 2024

Unit 2: Emotional Disturbance – Short Essay Assignment

General instructions:

Please consider the hypothetical below and provide a 2–3-page response. Please do not exceed

3 pages. Extra points will not be awarded for completing a third page. This assignment is

graded on quality and not quantity. Pages should have 1-inch margins, 12-point reasonable

font. You may use single or double spacing (remember, I am grading for quality not quantity,

but if you have a lot to say then feel free to say it). Please place your name and the date of

submission on each page. This is a hypothetical. There are no right or wrong answers. I am

purely interested in your analysis and how you would apply the Emotional Disturbance disability

category to the facts. Utilize the Drop Box for our class to submit your essay.

*Additional instructions and rubric are provided after the hypothetical

Fact pattern:

Spike is a student at Sunnydale School District. His education was uneventful from kindergarten

through 8th grade. During elementary and middle school, he earned “B” and “C” grades. He

had several friends that he ate lunch with and would sit by in class. He attended school

regularly and was quiet and polite. Sunnydale Elementary School and Sunnydale Middle School

had a policy that for every 3 missing homework assignments, a student would receive an after-

school detention. Spike did not consistently turn in his homework assignments and received 4

detentions in 6th grade, 7 detentions in 7th grade, and 12 detentions in 8th grade. In 8th grade

Spike missed 10 days of school for having migraine headaches. Spike’s parents verbally told the

principal that his headaches were due to stress from completing homework assignments, but

Spike’s parents did not present the school district with medical documentation.

During the 2022-2023 school year Spike was in 9th grade at Sunnydale High School. In October

of Spike’s 9th grade year, his father became ill. Spike continued to be quiet and polite to peers

and teachers, but his attendance began to decline. He would stay home a couple days a week

to take care of his father. In December 2022, Spike only attended 5 days of school. Spike’s

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mother wrote school excuses for each day Spike missed stating that Spike was caring for his

ailing father. On February 14, 2023, Spike’s father passed away. Spike began seeing a therapist

who diagnosed him with anxiety and adjustment disorder. Spike started dressing in dark

colored clothing, got a tattoo, and would wear his hood over his head throughout the day. In

May 2023, Spike began dating Buffy. Buffy is a student at Sunnydale High School known for

fighting and missing school. During the 4th quarter of his 9th grade year, Spike received all “D”

grades. He passed 9th grade with a final grade of “D” in each class.

Spike is currently in 10th grade (2023-2024 school year). During the 1st and 2nd quarters of his

10th grade year, Spike received “C” and “D” grades. He continued to date Buffy. Spike began

hanging out with a group of kids who claim to be vampires and witches. It is rumored that Buffy

taught Spike how to fight. Spike has received 5 days of out-of-school suspension this year for

physically fighting peers at school. He refuses to talk to his teachers except that he meets with

the librarian regularly who he confides in. Spike’s mother went to Sunnydale High School to

meet with his teachers in January 2024. His mother told his teachers that Spike continues to

attend therapy and is diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She gave the school a copy of a

one-page sheet from Spike’s therapist stating those diagnoses. Spike’s mother said that he is

prescribed medication but often will refuse to take the medicine. In late January 2024, Spike’s

mother took him to WPIC, a psychiatric hospital, where he was hospitalized for 2 days for self-

injurious behaviors. Spike’s mother called Sunnydale High School to let them know about the

hospitalization and asked if special education services may help.

Your job at Sunnydale School District:

You are a consultant for Sunnydale High School and are asked if special education services may

help Spike. You meet with the school psychologist and are presented with the information in

this hypothetical. You are knowledgeable about Emotional Disturbances. You and the school

psychologist engage in a discussion about potential eligibility under the Emotional Disturbance

disability category. The information you type regarding this student will be kept only for your

file and will not be handed out to the education team or school psychologist. You plan to

reference this information while you verbally discuss the student’s situation with the school


The assignment:

Please select 1-2 characteristics of Emotional Disturbance and go through a sequential analysis

of the 1-2 characteristics to discuss whether Spike could meet the elements of Emotional

Disturbance. If you would like additional information about the student or data regarding

potential eligibility, please state what you think would be helpful to know in making your

decision. It is important to understand that there is not a right or wrong answer. I am

interested in how you move through the elements of Emotional Disturbance to apply the legal

definition to the facts.

Grading criteria:

This assignment is worth 20 points and will be graded as follows:

8 points – demonstration of moving clearly through the elements of Emotional Disturbance in

sequential order

• please cover elements 1 through 5

• understandably, some elements may be covered in a couple sentences, and some may

require additional explanation

• you may determine what elements to cover in more detail but be certain to cover every


10 points – overall application and analysis of the element of Emotional Disturbance to the facts

presented and communicating that application clearly in writing

• utilize as many facts within the hypothetical that you believe are relevant to your


• apply the facts to the legal definition of Emotional Disturbance to develop a clear

discussion as to whether the student could meet or not meet eligibility for Emotional


2 points – throughout your analysis identify information or data you believe would be helpful

for the school team to obtain in the evaluation process

• the hypothetical has given you what we know about Spike

• is there any information or data that would be helpful to know when determining


Bonus! 2 points – at the end of your essay, let me know what popular television series from the

late 90’s and early 2000’s I may be referencing

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