In February 2008, a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania issued a strong decision on behalf of a child with autism and his mother.
The issues in Tereance D. v School District of Philadelphia include the failure to provide FAPE over a period of many years. The district performed inadequate evaluations, misdiagnosed the child as mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed, and intentionally misled the parent about her son's rights to autism services and extended school year services. Settlement negotiations are underway about compensatory education.
Eartly Intervention: Flawed Evaluations & Failure to Provide Needed Support
A year later, the District suspected that Tereance had autism but conducted flawed evaluations - or no evaluations at all.
The District's policies regarding ESY services did not meet state or federal law - and were actually designed to mislead parents about their ESY rights.
Judge Refuses to Dismiss Any Counts
The judge refused to dismiss the counts and and found that:
Hearing Officer Grants Some Compensatory Education; Review Panel Affirms
In addition to violations of IDEA, Tereance's mother also alleged violations under Section 504.
A hearing officer found in the parent's favor and awarded limited compensatory education, holding that the statute of limitations had expired on some claims. A Special Education Appeals Panel affirmed the hearing officer's order. The case was appealed to federal court.
Parents Have Independent, Enforceable Rights
The District attempted to dismiss the mother, Wanda D. as a plaintiff, claiming that she was not the "aggrieved party." Relying on the recent Supreme Court decision in Winkelman v. Parma, the Court held that the mother had standing on her own.
You will want to read Winkelman v. Parma, the powerful pro-parent, pro-child decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Last Revised: 08/02/08