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Friday, June 7, 2013

SDNY reverses the SRO on reimbursement case

In a case decided on June 4, 2013, the SDNY once again reversed an SRO denial of tuition reimbursement. This case, M.F. v. NYC Bd. of Educ., made it to the Court in a fairly typical posture. The parent prevailed at hearing; the SRO reversed. The NYC DOE conceded that it had failed to provide the child a FAPE and thus, the appropriateness of the DOE’s placement and program recommendations was not at issue. The SRO found that the parental placement, the Aaron School, was not appropriate. The Court held that “[i]n mechanically comparing the IEP's requirements to what the Aaron School provided, the SRO ignored the Second Circuit's instruction that a private placement need not offer every service listed in an IEP” and “that the SRO applied a more rigorous standard than that required by the case law, mischaracterized what the IEP required, and held the Aaron School responsible for a failure to offer summer services that it was not obligated to provide.” With respect to the summer services, the Court found that it was the DOE's responsibility to provide these services in July and August 2010, and it makes no sense to find the Aaron School an inappropriate placement because it offered only a 10–month program.