Wednesday, May 23, 2012

6th Circuit sides with parents in IEP dispute

The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which covers Ohio, has reversed the decision of a U.S. District Court in Kentucky to dismiss a parents' claims under IDEA and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. In that case, the parents filed a due process complaint alleging, among other things, that their son's IEP, implemented in 2004, was inadequate because he was not receiving certain services. A hearing was held and the hearing officer agreed with the school district in some respects, but found that the 2004 IEP was, as the parents suggested, inadequate. The hearing officer also found that the school district should have to reimburse the parents for certain tutoring expenses incurred as a result of the state's failure to provide the student a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The school appealed the decision to Kentucky's Exceptional Children Appeals' Board (ECAB) that the district had not been given proper notice that the complaint included a charge that the child was not receiving proper services under the 2004 IEP. The ECAB agreed, and reversed the hearing officer. The parents then filed a lawsuit, requesting the hearing officer's decision stand, and also alleging that the school district had violated the child's rights under 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The district court found in favor of the parents, reversing the ECAB regarding the notice issue, but dismissed the 504 claim. Both parties appealed. Finding that the school district did have proper notice, the 6th Circuit affirmed the district court's opinion as to that count. However, the appeals court found that the district court committed error with respect to dismissing the rest of the IEP and 504 claims and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings. It is important to note, as the appeals court did here, that the complaint was filed when the child was in 6th grade. He is now getting ready to graduate high school.