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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Federal Court Vacates SRO home schooling decision

H.C. v. Colton-Pierrepont: This is a case of particular interest to home schoolers in New York State. The case was originally a parent challenge to the district’s recommended reduction in frequency of related services. The parent prevailed at hearing. On appeal, the district prevailed, but more importantly, the SRO advised that districts were not permitted to provide special education services to home schooled kids. This issue had not been raised, briefed or argued by either of the parties. Federal District Court Judge Hurd vacated the SRO decision. Although he decided the case on other grounds, he criticized the SRO for “depriv[ing] both parties of due process because he failed to inform them that he intended to rule on the rights of home-schooled students to receive special education services – an issue that neither party raised nor briefed.” Judge Hurd noted that “[t]he SRO also exceeded the scope of his authority because “[t]he decision of the State Review Officer shall be based solely upon the record before the State Review Officer . . . .” N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 8, § 279.12(a) (2008). Neither party mentioned or submitted evidence concerning the ability of home-schooled students to receive special education services.“

On August 25, 2008, the district filed a notice of appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

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