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Reimbursement reduced by 25% due to parent’s failure to provide ten days’ notice, and other unreasonable conduct.

Anchorage School District v. D.K., 54 IDELR 28 (D.Alaska 2009):  A U.S. District Court upheld the findings of an impartial hearing officer that a school district failed to provide the student a FAPE, but ordered the school district to reimburse the parent for only 75% of the tuition.

The Court noted that the school district failed to monitor the student’s progress by sufficient objective measures, and also stated that the school district’s method to overcome the student’s regression was to “water down” the student’s goals.  As a result, the school district failed to provide an appropriate program.

However, instead of finding the parent entitled to full reimbursement, the Court took into account the fact that the student’s mother failed to provide the requisite ten days’ notice of an intended unilateral placement.  Although the school district had actual notice of the parent’s intention, the Court determined that the parent manipulated the process by only indirectly mentioning the private placement during the final IEP meeting.  At the same time, the parent enrolled the student in his proposed public placement so as not to lose his spot, thereby denying that spot to another student.

Although these circumstances could warrant denying reimbursement altogether, the Court held that the parent was entitled to reimbursement (since the proposed public placement was not appropriate, and the unilateral placement provided a FAPE), but reduced the award by 25% to account for the parent’s actions.

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