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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Gross misjudgment’

School’s failure to address bullying permits suit for damages

Monday, August 12th, 2013

M.J.  v. Marion Independent School District, 61 IDELR 76 (W.D. Tex. 2013): A federal district court allowed the parents of a student with bipolar disorder and ADHD to seek damages from a school district which failed to adequately address disability-based bullying.  The court concluded that, under Section 504, a school may be liable for failing to remedy disability-based peer-on-peer harassment.  Accordingly, the suit was permitted to proceed to resolve a genuine dispute as to whether the school acted with deliberate indifference or gross misjudgment when the student notified it of instances of harassment.

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Failure to implement and revise IEP to address ongoing harassment may render school district liable under Section 504

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Stewart v. Waco Independent School District, 60 IDELR 241 (5th Cir. 2013):  A federal court of appeals allowed a student’s claims relating to alleged harassment to proceed under Section 504, noting that, if taken as true, they could demonstrate that the school district exercised gross misjudgment.  The student, diagnosed with mental retardation, speech impairment, and hearing impairment, alleged she was subject to several instances of sexual harassment and abuse by peers, and that such instances directly resulted from the school district’s failure to implement the safety measures built in to the student’s IEP.  She also claimed that the school failed to revise her IEP to prevent harassment from recurring.

The court denied relief asserted under a theory of deliberate indifference, since the student failed to allege enough facts to meet that threshold.  However, the court permitted the case to proceed under a theory of gross misjudgment, noting that, when viewed favorably to the student, her allegations could show that the district’s course of action went “strongly against the grain of accepted standards of educational practice” if the district failed to satisfy an ongoing responsibility to provide the student with reasonable accommodations necessary to mitigate or eliminate the sexual harassment and abuse.

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Court refused to dismiss denial of 504 FAPE claim against private school

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Bishop v. Children’s Center for Developmental Enrichment, 57 IDELR 156 (S.D. Ohio 2011): The court refused to dismiss a claim brought by the parents of a student with autism that a private school denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  As a recipient of federal financial assistance, the private school may be subject to a denial of FAPE claim under Section 504.  Although the private school claimed that the parents withdrew the student from the school, the parents had evidence that the school expelled the student from school by reason of the student’s autism.  Therefore, there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the private school acted with bad faith or gross misjudgment (or at the very least with deliberate indifference) and that it discriminated against the student “solely by reason of his disability.”

However, the court dismissed the parents’ claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), since the parents did not present any admissible evidence that the private school is a place of public accommodation (as is required by Title III of the ADA).  The court also dismissed the parents claim under Section 1983 since the parents could not show that the private school was acting under the color of state law.

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