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AGO 1951 No. 430 - January 18, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND -- OBLIGATIONS TO OTHER PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED -- COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE

1. The State School for the Blind must accept all blind students who are residents of the State of Washington who are between the ages of six and twenty-one years.  Other physical handicaps besides blindness do not operate as a bar toward the attendance of this school.

2. Attendance at the school is compulsory of all blind youth unless the County Superintendent of Schools deems that they are receiving a proper education elsewhere.

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                                                                 January 18, 1951

Honorable Ray Olsen
State Representative
35th District
718 Seaboard Building
Seattle 1, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 430

Dear Sir:

            Your letter of November 27, 1950, asks the two following questions:

            1. What are the legal obligations of the State School for the Blind toward blind citizens with regard to age and other physical handicaps besides blindness?

            2. May parents of blind children choose between sending these children to public schools in their district and the State School for the Blind?

            Our conclusions may be summarized as follows:

            1. The State School for the Blind must accept all blind students who are residents of the State of Washington and who are between the ages of six and twenty-one years.  Other physical handicaps besides blindness do not operate as a bar to the attendance of this school.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            2. Attendance at the school is compulsory of all blind youth unless the County Superintendent of Schools deems that they are receiving a proper education elsewhere.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            1. Rem. Rev. Stat. 4647 and 4650 infer that the maximum age limitation at the State School for the Blind shall be twenty-one years, and the minimum age limitation six years.

            Rem. Rev. Stat. 4652 states that attendance at the State School for the Blind is compulsory of all blind youth.  No specific mention is made in the statutes relating to obligations to the physically handicapped other than the deaf or the blind; thus, the natural conclusion is that the state's obligations to such blind youth are not diminished because they possess other physical handicaps.  Further substantiating this conclusion is Article 8, Section 1, of our State Constitution, which provides that educational institutions shall be fostered and supported by the state for the benefit of all defective youth.  The conclusion is that if a youth is blind he is entitled to the benefits of the State School for the Blind regardless of other physical handicaps.

            2. Rem. Rev. Stat. 4652 provides that it is the duty of parents or guardians of blind youth to send them to the State School for the Blind.  Provision is made in this statute that if the County Superintendent of Schools is provided with satisfactory evidence that any blind youth is being properly educated at home or in some suitable institution other than the State School for the Blind, he shall take no other action other than to make a record of such fact.  The stated duty of the County Superintendent of Schools is to satisfy himself that such blind youth is receiving a proper education; thus, the actual choice between attending the State School for the Blind and an ordinary public school does not lie with the parents of the blind youth, but rather, with the County Superintendent of Schools, who is charged with the duty of seeing that the youth receives a proper education.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LEO H. FREDRICKSON
Assistant Attorney General

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