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Damages  Against Teacher Who Refused to Implement IEP:
Doe v. Withers

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Why did you put Doe v. Withers on your site? What is the relevance of a case that's 15 years old?

Pete responds: Your point is well taken.

Doe v. Withers is a 1992 case that was decided in part under United States Code Section 1983. (Thus the 15 year confusion.)

During the past month, several people have sent emails, and are looking for information about the case.

Doe v. Withers is not posted on the Internet. I have discussed Doe v. Withers in articles on the Wrightslaw site. Several years ago, I wrote an analysis of Doe v. Withers for the Attention Deficit Disorder Forum on CompuServ.

Practically speaking, Doe v. Withers is little more than a simple jury trial in a civil case that is unreported in the State or Federal Court Reporters. But Doe v. Withers is also a landmark case.

Because it was jury verdict in a civil trial and was not appealed, Doe v. Withers is not reported in the usual publications that publish caselaw decisions - usually cases on appeal.

Why is this case so significant?

Doe v. Withers was the first special education jury trial and the first special education dollar damages case.

Doe v. Withers is also significant because the child's history teacher (who was a member of the state General Assembly at the time) refused to follow the child's IEP, despite being told to do so by several school officials including the principal, special ed director, and special ed teacher.

Several school staff were not defendants in the civil suit because there was documentation that they told the history teacher to follow the IEP. Later, other defendants were dismissed because they also told Withers to follow the IEP.

Complaint in Doe v. Withers

Jury Order in Doe v. Withers

This case paved the way for subsequent special ed damage cases, including W. B. v. Matula, a landmark case from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and Witte v. Clark County, a recent case from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Your e-mail tells me that we need to do a better job of providing background about the cases we post.

We appreciate your questions. I'm sure other readers had the same questions but did not write.

Last revised: 03/31/09

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