Discrimination Case for Damages Evolves, Appeal to Supreme Court: Fry v. Napoleon

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In This Issue ...

Circulation: 98,627
ISSN: 1538-320
March 9, 2016

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Stacy, Brent, Ehlena Fry and WonderIn this issue of The Special Ed Advocate, you will meet the Fry family - Stacy, Brent, Ehlena and Wonder, her service dog.

Ehlena has a severe type of cerebral palsy that affects her legs, arms and body.

Her doctor p
rescribed a service dog that would be trained to accompany her at all times, perform tasks, and help her lead a more independent life. Her parents obtained Wonder who was specially trained to assist Ehlena.

This plan hit a roadblock when Ehlena's school refused to allow Wonder, the service dog, to accompany her to school. The family and school were at loggerheads about Wonder for nearly three years.

As you read the decision in Fry v. Napoleon, 788 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2015), do you understand why the Court did not rule on the merits of the case? What do you think about the dissenting Judge's words?

We hope you will forward this issue to friends, families, or colleagues.

Ehlena and Her Wondrous Dog

Ehlena Fry and Wonder (photo by Stacy Fry)Ehlena has a severe type of cerebral palsy. In 2009, her parents acquired Wonder, a dog that was specially trained to help with balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on lights, and perform many other wondrous tasks. With help from Wonder, Ehlena became more confident and independent.

But Ehlena's school refused to allow Wonder to accompany her at school. Learn more about Ehlena and Wonder.

After years of obstruction and resistance by the school, the parents transferred Ehlena to a school in another jurisdiction. The parents brought suit against the school district under the ADA and Section 504 for “damages for the social and emotional hardship caused by the Defendant school district’s refusal to permit her trained service dog to accompany her to school.”

But the school district asked the Court to dismiss the case because the parents failed to request a due process hearing under IDEA. Then the case took a sharp right turn. What happened next?

Fry v. Napoleon: Supreme Court Considers New Special Ed Case

Fry v. Napoleon Comm. School District, 788 F.3d 622 (6th Cir. 2015) began as a discrimination / reasonable accommodations / damages case on behalf of a child with cerebral palsy who needed her service dog, but shifted to a case about exhausting administrative remedies. Read the original Complaint.

In October 2015, the parents appealed the adverse decision from the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. The Petition for Certiorari spells out the issues before the Court.

On January 19, 2016, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General of the United States to file a brief as to whether or not the Supreme Court should hear the case. The Supreme Court case number is 15-497.

Coming Soon! Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases 2015

We expect to publish our newest book, Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases 2015, very soon so we need to give you a quick, down-and-dirty preview of the book.

Wrightslaw: Special Education - Legal Developments and Cases 2015 includes:

  • All decisions in IDEA cases by Courts of Appeals in 2015 including court, legal issues, synopsis of decision, outcome, prevailing party, and link to all decisions.
  • Special education legal developments iin 2015: exhaustion of legal remedies; failure to raise issues at due process hearing; qualified immunity of school staff who made false reports of sexual abuse against a parent; failure to evaluate (Child Find) and failure to reevaluate (denial of FAPE).
  • Google Scholar Tutorial so you learn how to use this robust - and free - legal research tool.
  • ADA / 504 case about a child's service dog appealed to Supreme Court.
  • Facts, issues and outcomes in two damages cases decided by juries:
    -- Ebonie S. v. Pueblo School District (CO): Jury Verdict of $2.2 Million
    -- Foster Smith v. Reynolds School District (OR): Jury Award of $800,000 to child who broke leg at school, will never walk again.
  • Teacher abuse in California schools led to settlements of 8 million and 10 million dollars.

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