Federal Court Orders Clark County School District to Reimburse Parents $456,000.
A federal court has ordered a school district to reimburse a family that had accumulated significant expenses to document their student’s educational needs with dyslexia, ADHD, and developmental mathematics disorder.
Special Education Attorney Pete Wright wrote an excellent summary of the case HERE.
This case is noteworthy in several respects. The Court held that:
• the IEP team failed to consider evaluations provided by the parents and failed to meaningfully consider the parents’ concerns for enhancing their child’s education;
• the IEP team ignored the findings and recommendations of the professional evaluations of O.R.;
• O.R. needs were complex so she required a methodology that was research-based, systemic, cumulative, and rigorously implemented;
• the district’s response to the parents’ requests for a program that met their child’s needs was “trust us to provide her with what she needs”;
• the Court held an evidentiary hearing to obtain expert testimony about Orton-Gillingham methodology;
• the Court held that the cost of training teachers in the Orton-Gillingham method
The interesting aspects of this decision are the fact that it was made in federal court and therefore has implications across the United States. The parents tested their student privately and in both cases, specific remediation (i.e. Orton-Gillingham (O-G) based multisensory instruction) was recommended, which the school district refused.
The school refused to accept outside findings which documented dyslexia and instead qualified the student only under “OHI or Other Health Impairment”. After parents requested a “due process hearing”, an independent hearing officer also concluded that the student was not provided with a “free appropriate education” as guaranteed by federal law.
The independent hearing office concluded that the district did not demonstrate a working knowledge of Orton-Gillingham and that the district had predetermined that they would not include O-G in the students IEP.
From the court:
“O.R. required consistent programming throughout the day. The IEP teams’ failure to recognize this, despite having notice in the form of recommendations provided in the evaluations and discussion with O.R.’s parents, demonstrates deliberate indifference. The record therefore establishes that Defendant violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.”
As a result of this decision, the school district had to reimburse the parents for tuition and travel expenses for this child to enroll in Eagle Hill School (a school that employs Orton-Gillingham instruction). In addition to paying the parents $456,000, they were also ordered to reimburse the parents for attorneys fees in the case.
Hopefully this decision may help more school districts to become aware of the need to train their teachers and provide appropriate remediation and support to all their dyslexic students.