Irving Independent School District v. Tatro in 1984

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Oberti v. Clementon: Summary & Significance

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Case Background
  • 0:53 The Lawsuit
  • 1:42 Court Ruling
  • 3:31 Legacy
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lisa Roundy

Lisa has taught at all levels from kindergarten to college and has a master's degree in human relations.

In this lesson, learn how the court case Irving Independent School District vs. Tatro helped define the services a school must provide to students requiring special education.

Case Background

Amber Tatro was born with a birth defect called spina bifida that occurs when parts of a baby's spine do not properly form around the spinal cord. As a result of her birth defect, Amber had a number of health issues including a bladder condition that required catheterization several times a day to prevent kidney damage. Amber began a special education program with Irving Independent School District when she was three years old. The school district agreed to provide her with a number of special services, but refused when her parents requested that the school provide catheterization for Amber. Amber would not be able to attend school if this service would not be provided during the school day. This raised the question of whether Amber was being excluded from receiving an education because of the school's decision.

The Lawsuit

Amber's parents believed that the catheterization should be included in the special services provided by the school, but Irving Independent School District claimed that this service fell outside of its educational requirements. Since the two parties were unable to reach an agreement, the Tatro family filed a lawsuit claiming that Amber's rights were being violated and that the school was required to provide 'related services' necessary for her to receive 'free appropriate public education' as defined by the Education of the Handicapped Act (1975). They argued that Amber would be excluded from school activities due to her disability if this service was not provided. The courts were tasked with determining whether the Education of the Handicapped Act or the Rehabilitation Act (1973) required Irving Independent School District to provide this service during the school day.

Court Rulings

In 1979, the initial ruling in the case of the Irving Independent School District vs. Tatro was delivered. The federal district court ruled in favor of the school. The court held that providing catheterization for Amber was not a related service under the Education for all Handicapped Children Act because it was a medical procedure and not related to educational services. The implication was that a federally funded school did not have to set up medical care under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The Tatro family appealed this decision and in 1980 the ruling was overturned by a court of appeals. According to the court, Amber's catheterization was a related service under the Education for all Handicapped Children Act because Amber would not be able to receive an education without this service. This meant that federally funded schools were in violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and were excluding a child from being educated if they refused to provide medical procedures necessary for attendance. Since the court of appeals considered the school district to be in violation of the Rehabilitation Act, they were ordered to pay attorney fees to the Tatro family.

Due to the conflicting court decisions, the case was further appealed and settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1984. The court ruled that the Irving Independent School District was required to provide catheterization services for Amber during school hours. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ruling that the catheterization was considered a related service under the Education for all Handicapped Children Act. However, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the ruling in regard to the Rehabilitation Act, stating that Irving Independent School District was not in violation of this act and therefore not responsible for paying the attorney fees of the Tatro family.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account