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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Virginia State Court holds that insurance policy provided coverage to school district in special education tuition reimbursement case

School Board of the City of Newport News v. Commonwealth of Virginia: Parent filed a hearing request seeking reimbursement for a private placement. District sought coverage under a policy administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Coverage was denied. Parent was awared reimbursement at hearing. The District filed a State level appeal in response to which, the award to the parent was reduced. The parent then appealed to federal court. The federal district court reinstated the hearing officer award and that determination was affirmed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
        The school district then filed an action in state court challenging the denial of coverage. The Virginia supreme court held that an action filed in state or federal court pursuant to IDEA, following exhaustion of state administrative procedures, was an independent civil action, not an administrative action, and that such an action constituted a valid claim under the school board's insurance policy, thus triggering coverage. The court held that the claim could not be excluded on the grounds that it was an administrative action.