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Parents must notify school district of dissatisfaction with proposed IEP and placement of student in a private school each year.

J.W. v. Kingston City School District, 55 IDELR 132 (N.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court reduced the tuition reimbursement award to parents of a student diagnosed with dyslexia.  The impartial hearing officer and State Review Officer both found that the school district failed to show that the proposed IEP for the student was reasonably calculated to provide an educational benefit.  However, the SRO held that the parents should be denied reimbursement on equitable grounds, since they did not raise their concerns about the IEP in a timely manner.

For the school year in question, the school district received the parents’ letter outlining their concerns about the proposed IEP and notifying the school district of their intentions to place the student privately, only five days before the school year began.  The parents argued that the student had attended the private school for two years, and they notified the school district at the time of the student’s initial removal from public school.  The SRO rejected this argument and the Court agreed, noting that parents are obligated to provide notice of their dissatisfaction with the proposed IEP and enrollment in a private school each year.

However, the Court overturned the SRO in relation to the overall balance of the equities.  The Court found that the school district “made no appreciable effort” to address the concerns raised by the parents in their letter, and that the district’s “generic” response to the letter showed that, had the parents raised their concerns sooner, the response would not have specifically addressed the parents’ concerns.  Therefore, the overall equities favored the parents, and entitled them to reimbursement (less a reduction for their failure to provide the requisite ten days’ notice).

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