May 2018 Update: From the Normans, “It’s more GOOD News!”
After we won our 2016 due process hearing, the school district appealed the decision to the federal court. The legitimate or reasonable basis for the appeal was unclear to us.
We won again! The federal District Judge affirmed the Hearing Officer’s decision in full.
- Our daughter will remain stay-put at her private school, where she is thriving.
- The Judge ordered the public school to repay us for our attorney fees.
We would expect another frivolous appeal, but the next level of appeal would be U.S. Supreme Court. After the recent Endrew case in the Supreme Court, in which the parents prevailed in 8-0 decision, we believe that any further appeal by the school district would almost certainly be rejected without consideration.
The “MN” case is a public record that is now considered case law, a very significant legal precedent that can help families throughout the US whose children are denied FAPE.
A Bittersweet Victory
For us, the victory is bittersweet. Although we are happy for our daughter and the precedent we set for other families, we are disappointed that the school district continued to fight us and used taxpayer dollars (including ours!) when that money could have been used for the children in special education.
The district will now have to pay the bill – not only for their 4 lawyers against us, but also our 1 lawyer, all from money the school should be using for our vulnerable children who need special education.
In an attempt to wear us down, the school district chose to keep fighting us and made a deliberate decision to pay their city attorneys. We can’t imagine that is where citizens want their taxpayer dollars to go! And for some reason the public school refused to use CSA (state) funds to pay for the private school.
FOIA Request: The District’s Expense for the Case
Additionally, through a FOIA request, we discovered that our case was the most expensive case for the school district in the last 3 years.
The school district paid 4 attorneys for at least 879 hours to work on our case, plus:
- $19,582.26 for hearing officer fees
- $9,670.75 for court reporter fees
- $4,350 for IEEs
- reimbursement of tuition and transportation to our daughter’s private school over the past 3 years
- reimbursement of our attorney fees
Not including payments to school district attorneys and staff members prior to filing for due process and time spent in attendance of IEP Meetings throughout the process, the total was approximately $280,000*.
*FOIA did not provide a definite monetary amount, but did state that 879 hours were spent at $96-$105/hour.
Reaching Out: How Will the District Really Use Impact Aid Funding – for Military Families or Attorneys?
We are reaching out to fellow Virginia Beach citizens to question our School Board members, the Superintendent, and the Director of the Office of Exceptional Children.
Instead of using taxpayer dollars to ensure appropriate education was provided to all students, VBCPS recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a single case, to pay attorneys to attempt to deny the fact that the public school did not provide free and appropriate public education to an elementary girl who has disabilities.
The school lost all decisions.
Why continue to use funding designated for the education of our children to instead pay lawyers to challenge a reasonable and respectable military family with two children who have special needs?
We are concerned that Impact Aid Funding, designated to support school districts with military families, are instead being funneled to attorneys to fight military families with children with special needs.
The Madness Continues!
Only two days after returning from an overseas deployment, still jetlagged, Cass joined me for the first IEP meeting following the federal District Judge’s decision.
We hoped the school district would put aside their emotional agendas and come together to provide a reasonably calculated, appropriate education for our daughter in light of her multiple diagnoses. They did not.
From their actions and words, it appears that the public school district remains obstinate, without logic or reason, in their determination to challenge us, despite their consistent losing streak against us.
They seem to be making a desperate emotional attempt to preserve their previously unchallenged authority to pursue their own interests in administration of special education, regardless of state or federal law.
The fight continues.
Read the Decision here.
Falling Through the Cracks: Military Children with Special Needs (May 2017)