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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Court allows parent to proceed on behalf of child

B.J.S. v. STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT (W.D.N.Y. 2-9-2010): Parent appealed the SRO’s denial of her claim that her child’s IEP was inappropriate. She proceeded pro se and brought the claim “individually and on behalf” of her child. The school district sought to have counsel appointed for the child. The Court denied the motion reasoning that the child was not an individual plaintiff in the action. Rather, the parent, who has a right to proceed pro se pursuant to Winkelman, was asserting her own IDEA rights, rights that are “coextensive” with the child’s rights. Thus, the parent was suing to enforce the parent’s individual right to a FAPE for her child.

This case also presents an interesting discussion about confidentiality, the sealing of records and the proper captioning of IDEA cases to preserve the privacy of the child.

SRO annuls inadequate decision and remands for further testimony

SRO 10-035: Parent sought reimbursement for a private school placement. The IHO denied the parent’s claim in a 5 paragraph decision that violated virtually every norm for a hearing officer’s decision. The SRO agreed with the parent’s arguments regarding the inadequacy of the decision. Additionally, this IHO had refused to adjourn the hearing for the taking of testimony of a district witness. The SRO found that to be error. The SRO remanded the matter to the same hearing officer for further testimony and consideration.

SRO affirms award for private school reimbursement

SRO 10-042: Parents prevailed at hearing in New York City private school reimbursement case. NYC appealed to the SRO. For the first time this year, the SRO affirmed on the merits a decision in which an IHO had awarded reimbursement to a parent. The IHO on the case was James Walsh.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Graduation is not necessarily the end of the story

Doe v. MARLBOROUGH PUBLIC SCHOOLS, Dist. Court, D. Massachusetts 2010:

Reimbursement and compensatory education cases live on after a child graduates. This case takes it one step further. Child had an IEP and received special education services. Parent challenged the legitimacy of the child’s graduation. The Court ruled that satisfaction of graduation requirements does not necessarily terminate a school district’s obligations under the IDEA. “ [A] school district may not properly graduate a student with disabilities if the student was not provided with FAPE as required by IDEA (e.g., a student did not receive appropriate transitional services or his IEP was not reasonably calculated to provide him educational benefit).” Pendency during such a challenge is the placement and program that the child was in at the time of the challenge.