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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘mootness’

Out-of-state move did not moot parent’s reimbursement claim

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

E.D. v. Newburyport Public Schools, 57 IDELR 91 (1st Cir. 2011): The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s dismissal of a claim for private school tuition reimbursement.  The district court incorrectly determined that the parents’ move out of state mooted their claim.  Although the move ended the school district’s future obligation to provide the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE), it did not prevent the parents from seeking reimbursement for their past unilateral private school placement, where the parents lived within the school district during the time period relevant to the parent’s reimbursement claim.

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School district violated Child Find by delaying a full evaluation of a student, despite having enough information to suspect a disability.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

D.A. v. Houston Independent School District, 54 IDELR 168 (S.D. Tex. 2009):  A U.S. District Court upheld a hearing officer’s determination that a school district violated the IDEA’s child find requirements when it failed to complete a full evaluation of a first grade child in a timely manner.  The school district had a reasonable suspicion of a disability in October of 2007, when the student’s first grade teacher reported that the student was academically deficient, and also had behavioral issues.  The student was independently diagnosed with a severe learning disability, and a pervasive developmental disorder (on the autism spectrum).  However, his educational evaluation was not completed until late January, despite repeated requests from the student’s mother to evaluate.  The hearing officer determined, and the District Court agreed, that the school district violated child find, particularly in light of its failure to provide the student’s mother with an explanation for the delay.  The Court noted that pre-referral strategies do not excuse child find violations.

Nevertheless, the District Court also upheld the hearing officer’s determination that no relief was warranted in this case.  The hearing officer had held that, the student and his mother’s relocation to another school district rendered their claims moot.  Although the District Court disagreed and determined that the student’s claim for compensatory relief precluded mootness, it concluded that the parents had not submitted any evidence supporting their claims for compensatory relief.

Additionally, and separately, the Court noted that to the extent that the school district had a policy of not referring young students for special education testing “for a short time in their initial years” in order to “allow young children time to develop,” there was no constitutional violation notwithstanding that the student’s mother repeatedly requested that her son be evaluated from the time he was in preschool through kindergarten.

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