Remedies for Kids Too Costly – BUT, a Never-ending Pot for Attorneys Fees!

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In 2007, a judge ordered sanctions against MPS and remedies for kids. MPS says what the judge ordered in June 2009 will be too costly. However, “they have a never-ending pot for attorney’s fees.”

A lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Wisconsin in 2001 alleged that MPS systematically failed to identify and serve students who may have been eligible for special education services.

In June, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein issued orders for MPS to seek out hundreds, if not thousands, of students – including regular education students – who might have missed being identified as eligible for special education services between September 2000 and June 2005. He appointed an independent monitor to oversee MPS and approve the official documents the district should use to contact potential class members.

In August, MPS won a reprieve in the special education lawsuit.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago granted MPS its motion to stay those orders, essentially hitting the pause button on the case.

MPS said they filed the appeal because of financial implications for taxpayers.

“It’s really frustrating,” said Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin. “MPS continues to complain that they just don’t have the money, but they have a never-ending pot for attorney’s fees.”

Spitzer-Resnick added that the process in the appeals court will likely drag through winter.

“You almost have to believe it’s intentional on their part,” he said. “The longer we get away from when this case started and when these kids were eligible (for services), the longer it takes to, (A) find these kids, and (B) convince them that they’re still eligible for some sort of compensation.”

Read the complete article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online “MPS wins reprieve in special education lawsuit”

Read the history of the Class Action Lawsuit in Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools

  1. Our son has autism and I believe he is dyslexic, he has a strong desire to read but the school district is insistant on not testing him, I cannot locate any state or federal statute citing that they must do this can anyone assist.

    Thank you

  2. School Districts could greatly reduce their legal fees if the “latest and Greatest” Response To Intervention included a private school voucher tier.

    In the event that all of the documented “tiers” of RTI are delivered and progress is not made, school districts could then offer parents a capped voucher that could be applied to private school tuition.

    This offers an incentive for the public school to follow through on accommodations without the school district having to pay attorney fees to protect their (at times) procrastination/hostage method of delivering educational services.

    This would guarantee educational services for more kids and offer less financial security for attorneys who currently benefit from a broken educational system.

    Now that would be a good “IDEA”…………

  3. A comment about this whole fiasco. The expression we are dealing with is penny wise and pound foolish. In the long run, it is much cheaper to provide the service than to be dragged into due process where there is a good chance the parent will win. In NYC, where I am, due process can cost the DOE up to ten thousand dollars at the high end. The speech/language services (for example) that the parent was requesting, would have cost AT MOST $3,600 for the entire school year. The child could have been serviced for 3 years, and might not even need the service any longer. Don’t they have calculators in the district offices?
    Sharon 🙂

  4. ADVICE: Go to your administration office and request the following information (they HAVE to comply with FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act) and it will prove your district is not living up to their No Child Left Behind, specifically Child Find, obligations.

    1. a) How many students at each school within the district that were not Sp Ed were
    evaluated last year?

    b) Of those evaluated, how many were denied Sp Ed, or found not eligible, or my
    favorite, not having an academic or educational need?

    2 .a) How many students already in the Spec Ed program were RE-EVALUATED?

    b) Of those students re-evaluated, how many students were found no longer to need
    Spec Ed and were removed from the program?

    You all would be shocked….I was. I thought it would be on the low end, but I had no idea that out of my son’s entire high school…No New Evaluations were administered

  5. The IDEA was never intended to guarantee wealth to law firms that represent school districts, yet school attorneys are the only folks in the mix that do not have to worry about being treated fairly.

    Parents can recoup legal fees that they have already paid out “IF” they prevail.

    School attorney fees should be contingent upon the child receiving a FAPE.

    If the school district’s attorney had to reimburse parents out of their pocket, they would be less likely to ignore procedural safeguards that schools repeatedly ignore.

  6. Interesting. We filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights when our Governor’s magnet school refused doctor’s letters from one of the top hospitals in the world; did not create a health care plan, would not provide transportation, would not give her credit for her work and more. The School/District spent $65, 652.95 on legal fees against one little girl instead of just solving the issues as her previous schools in the District had done. In the end, there were compliance concerns and the school had to pay the parents a small amount of money and undergo mandatory 504 training. No one wins when schools do not help our children. And the children and taxpayers definitely lose. Thanks Wrightslaw for keeping us informed.

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