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"THE INSIDE STORY OF THE $600,000 JURY VERDICT" by Laura Whiteside, Esq.
NEWS FLASH! $133,000 SETTLEMENT TO MISSOURI PARENTS IN ABA-AUTISM CASE
NEW CASE!! Muller v. East Islip Union Free School District (Second Circuit, May 22, 1998)- eligibility, conduct disorder v. emotional disturbance
NEW CASE!! Yankton v. Schramm (Eighth Circuit decision, date) - 504 v. IDEA, transition
News Update - COPAA
Letters to the Webmaster -
Read "Letter from Jackie" about making an inter-state move.
(1) "THE INSIDE STORY OF THE $600,000
Five years after they requested a special education due process hearing. Andrew Whitehead's parents had their day in court. On April 3, after deliberating for less than two hours, a Florida jury found that the Hillsborough School Board retaliated against the parents for attempting to protect their son's rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The jury awarded each parent $300,000.00.
On April 6, we advised Special Ed Advocate subscribers about this case. After Pete talked with Laura Whiteside, the parents' attorney, she agreed to write an article about "The Inside Story" of this precedent-setting case.
We promised to keep you posted about new developments in this case. On April 21, the Hillsborough School Board asked the Court for a new trial - or to reduce the damages awarded by the jury. The school board also asked the Court to issue an order holding the parents responsible for the school district's costs to defend the intentional discrimination issues.
On May 24, an injunction was entered that prohibits the School Board from failing to specify the special education and related services that are Andrew's IEP. The IEP must include the services Andrew needs.
You can read the "Inside Story" at
$133,000 SETTLEMENT TO MISSOURI PARENTS IN ABA-AUTISM CASE
Daniel Asbury is six years old. He also has autism. After two years in the school district's self-contained preschool program, Daniel made only two months of "progress."
Daniel's parents, Michael and Kathryn Asbury, decided to do some research on programs that have a better track record. They learned about Applied Behavioral Analysis. Later, Daniel's parents developed an ABA program for their son.
In ABA therapy programs, the autistic child receives intensive one-on-one therapy, six hours a day, seven days a week, for two to three years.
After 11 months of therapy, Daniel made 46 months of progress in communication skills. When his parents asked the district to continue the ABA program, the district refused.
Daniel's parents filed suit against the district. They claimed that the district failed to provide Daniel with an appropriate education - and that Daniel was damaged by the district's inappropriate program.
NEW CASE !!
On May 22, 1998, the Second Circuit issued a decision in Muller v. East Islip Union Free School District.
In this case, the school district claimed that the child had a "conduct disorder" so this made her ineligible for special education.
The Second Circuit upheld the District Court's decision that Treena Muller was a child with a disability (SED). As a child with a disability, Treena was entitled to a free appropriate education. The court awarded Treena compensatory damages and attorney's fees.
You will find Muller v. East Islip in the Law Library.
NEW CASE !!
A few weeks ago, we introduced our first guest, Sonja Kerr. Sonja is the well-known special education attorney from Minnesota. We told you about Sonja's advice-packed article for attorneys, "Letter to Damon."
On June 6, we added another of Sonja's recommended cases, Yankton v. Schramm, to the Law Library.
Wonder why so many school districts fight tooth and nail to avoid providing special education services - but are happy to write a 504 Plan for that child?
In Yankton v. Schramm, the Eighth Circuit considered the case of a 16 year old who had cerebral palsy. The school district unilaterally terminated this child's special education eligibility - over her parents' objections. Yet, the district was quite willing to provide accommodations under Section 504.
After Eighth Circuit analyzed this young girl's situation, and the rights under IDEA and Section 504, they agreed that she was eligible for special education and related services under IDEA. They affirmed that as a recipient of services under IDEA, she would receive 504 protections. The Court also discussed transition services.
The newly authorized IDEA focuses on the need to provide quality special education. The new IDEA also emphasizes transition services. If you have an interest in eligibility, 504 issues, or transition, read Yankton v. Schramm.
NEWS UPDATE - COPAA!
COPAA is the new nonprofit organization of attorneys, advocates and parents established to improve the quality and quantity of legal assistance to parents of children with disabilities.
In January, nearly 200 attorneys
and advocates met in Orlando for the first COPAA conference.
Plans for next year's conference are in the works now.
LETTERS TO THE WEBMASTER
We receive lots of letters from people with questions. We also receive lots of letters from people who disagree with our positions and opinions.
We believe that differing views, tactics, strategies, beliefs, opinions, and prejudices make for interesting reading. If you have an idea, position, or just want to stimulate debate, send us an email.
We are working on a new section for our web site , "Letters to the Webmaster."
If you have a favorite tip, tactic, or strategy that you'd like to share with us, send it to
Planning a move? This week, we received an e-mail from Jackie. Jackie wanted advice about moving to another state. Jackie is very satisfied with her child's special education program. She asked what steps parents can take to find a good special ed program. Pete answered her questions.
Read "Letter to Jackie" in the Special Ed Advocacy Library.