District 117 appealing court order regarding former student

By Gary Scott on August 25, 2015 at 7:47am

District 117 is appealing a court order regarding the provision of services for an autistic former student.

An amended motion filed last Tuesday in federal court in Springfield lists the student’s parents and the hearing officer who ruled as defendants.

The student was pulled out of the district last August, but the ruling ordered District 117 to pay for the home-schooling service.     The district is looking to recover the roughly $10,400 in reimbursement that it was ordered to pay.

District 117, represented by Rammelkamp Bradney Law Firm, argues that the hearing officer, Michael Risen, erred by applying the wrong legal standard in the July 20th decision, and the relief that was then granted.

The parents had initially filed the complaint in February.

In focus in the complaint are Individual Educational Plans that were created in 2013 and 2014, as is required for special education students. The school district says Risen didn’t properly rule that the district followed procedural requirements set by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Since the parents voluntarily placed the student in home schooling, District 117 argues it’s the burden of the parents to prove it was necessary. The appeal argues the district followed federal guidelines by providing the student with a “full continuum of alternative services” in the development of the 2014 IEP.

It further says the student made “reasonable and meaningful educational progress during the 2013-2014 school year.”

The district placed the student in the Hope School in Springfield last year, a decision contested by the parents.

The hearing officer ruled that the district used inappropriate disciplinary measures for the student, which he ruled led to escalating behaviors. In addition, Risen ruled that the IEP team denied recommendations of the student’s medical providers for home hospital instruction last year.

The Illinois State Board of Education and Superintendent of the ISBE Dr. Tony Smith are also listed as defendants.