Concerns about potential bullying are not enough to prove that a proposed school placement is inappropriate for a student with special needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, a federal judge has ruled.

In a Pennsylvania case pitting the parents of a teen with autism, known in court papers as J.E., against their school district, the parents argued that the district should pay for a private placement as opposed to the large public high school the officials recommended.

Fear that J.E. would be bullied at the public school was among the reasons cited by the parents in arguing that the district proposal was inappropriate. Specifically, J.E.’s mom said that she heard students at the school talking about bullying and the parents said J.E. had been subject to bullying at a previous school.

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However, in a decision reached earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno said that worries about bullying are insufficient to deem a placement inappropriate.

“J.E. may face bullying, but a fair appropriate public education does not require that the district be able to prove that a student will not face future bullying at a placement, as this is impossible,” Robreno wrote in his opinion.