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Parents of Child with Autism Prevail in Fourth Circuit

On July 10, 2001, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a favorable decision in Stefan Jaynes v. Newport News Public Schools. Stefan is represented by Pete Wright.

Background

At age two, Stefan Jaynes was diagnosed with autism. When his parents tried to get early intervention services from the school district, they ran into resistance. Although the district developed an IEP for Stefan, the district did not involve Stefan's parents, then failed to implement the IEP.

Although Stefan's parents repeatedly asked the district for help, Newport News "either ignored or denied their requests." The IEP was not implemented for several months.

When the district finally placed Stefan in a generic preschool program, he regressed. His parents pulled him out of this program and implemented an intensive homebased Lovaas/ ABA program.

Anatomy of a Special Education Case

After the parents learned that they had a right to a due process hearing, they requested a hearing and won. The Hearing Officer awarded the parents $117,000.

When a Review Officer reduced this award by half, Pete appealed to federal court.

On September 7, U. S. District Court Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. issued a favorable decision and awarded Stefan's parents $103,000.

The court found that Newport News' IEPs contained numerous deficiencies. The court also found that the district unilaterally "eliminated numerous programs from the IEP [but] provided no explanation or justification for striking these programs."

Newport News appealed to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

On June 7, the Court of Appeals heard oral argument. On July 10, the court issued a decision for Stefan.

Download the pleadings and decisions in this case from "Anatomy of a Special Education Case."

(Note: To read some of these documents, you must have Adobe PDF Reader software loaded in your computer. You can download Adobe PDF Reader software free from the Adobe site)

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