Case Update: MN v. School Board City of VA Beach 2018

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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.

What’s next?

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
  • ESY
  • 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)

  1. As a former teacher in the VB system, with several inclusion classes – I saw violations and illegal acts by admin more than I would have liked to. The poor lesser educated families with students of special needs got railroaded. I spoke out and was tortured and harassed. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!

  2. There are too many sped parents, seemingly, with similar problems with regard to their children in public schools across the United States. It’s unfortunate that “our” tax dollars are used by school districts that are not adequately educating our children. I’ve been battling my daughters school district for well over 10 years, in addition to “crooked lawyers.” We have been through lie after lie, regression, aggression, to say the least. In February 2018, she came home from school with a puncture wound to her private area and no explanation was offered. Prior to that she would come home with bruises and a chunk of skin gouged out of her index finger with a bandage covering it. No one offered any explanation. Feces and blood stained underwear/clothing, although she had a “one-on-one”

  3. I went thru a very similar situation where my school district was very obstinate and the sped consulting legal firm had hoodwinked the school board into increasing their annual funding fighting sped parents from $500,00 to $750,000 during the middle of my biggest battle with them. They ended up losing so then there was the added cost of educating my child and paying our lawyer.
    Fortunately they are not as obstinate any more. The secret is changing the school board member with savvier people who have a better sense of special ed and what it really is. We were fortunate enough to have a parent with an ASD child elected who helped change things around. Its still no perfect at all but at least the hostility has gone way down.

  4. I would like to ask for some suggestions about the current situation we have been put in. IEP on Monday; our son had been in a behavior class with a very low teacher-student ratio, as well as, she was not only a teacher but behavioral therapist. He is ready to transition to the 9th grade and the district wants to put him back in the general classroom. District states that the law says they have to give him a chance to be in the regular classroom. He’s had that chance for the past 8 years and we’ve had some major issues, not only with kids but with teachers as well. I’m very frustrated. Yes, he does have to learn to deal with people and the public at some point, but middle school and high school students are cruel. Need advice!

  5. This is a disgrace, and unfortunately is happening to military families all over the country. Impact Aid funding should be used to provide FAPE to the children of military service members, not to pay legal fees to try to deny FAPE!! I am so glad that your daughter is thriving and I thank you for taking your case to court, as it does set a heartening precedent. I remained concerned, however, that families with fewer resources or less propensity for advocacy will continue to fall through the cracks. Congratulations on these great results!

  6. I am sorry that your family had to spend time fighting for your daughters rights vice spending the little time that you have as a military family together making memories. I have been there. As a dual military family, we have spent 4 years fighting for what little rights our children have; a right to a free and appropriate education; our sons right to be treated fairly. We had to file a grievance against a Virginia Beach Middle School; it came back as “some matters substantiated”, but the student advocate could not tell us which matters, and she could not tell us the actions that would be taken due to personnel privacy. We spent over 11 months out of work due to the issues, and trying to establish healthy relationships. Not a month after the grievance hearing I had to place him in private.

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