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The GAP Attorneys Blog

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Parent’s participation in IEP process balances equities in her favor

A.R. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 12 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court overturned the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision denying a parent reimbursement for a unilateral placement because she failed to participate in the IEP process.

There was no dispute that the school district failed to provide a free appropriate public education, and the Court relied on the SRO’s determination that the unilateral placement was appropriate for the student with learning disabilities and a speech and language impairment.  The SRO, however, in balancing the equitable considerations gave weight to the parent’s signing of a contract with the unilateral placement referencing the parent’s pursuit of due process rights as a source of payment of tuition.  The SRO thus denied reimbursement, since the equities favored the district.  The Court overturned the SRO, however, noting that the parent participated in the IEP process, visited the proposed public placement, and the enrollment contract gave the parent the ability to withdraw from the private program without financial penalty in the event an appropriate public placement was offered.  Accordingly, the Court awarded the parent reimbursement.

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