Oberti v. Board of Education of the Borough of Clementon


Third Circuit Appeal

The case was then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which in 1993 issued a precedent-setting ruling upholding the District Court ruling.

The Third Circuit’s opinion stated that schools “must consider the whole range of supplemental aids and services” before segregating a student with a disability from the regular-education classroom, and that they must “make efforts to modify the regular education program” to make the curriculum accessible. The aids and services that the district must consider include “speech and language therapy, special education training for the regular teacher, [and] behavior modification programs,” but the opinion does not limit the obligation, stating that the district must consider “any other available aids and services appropriate.”

The opinion set a high standard for districts to justify segregating students with disabilities (widely known as ‘the Oberti test’), and the case opened the door for countless families to seek and win help through the law.

As important as it was, the decision’s impact was inherently limited. Many families lack the resources to go through an often arduous and expense litigation process, and even those who win in courts face additional problems of untrained teachers and inadequate supports and services. These hurdles subsequently led to the Gaskin case.