ILNews

7th Circuit rules school provided appropriate public education

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Hamilton Southeastern Schools has prevailed on appeal that it does not have to reimburse two parents for their son’s special education at another institution because they claimed the school system wasn’t providing a free appropriate education to their son, who had a traumatic brain injury.

In M.B., by his parents and next friends, Damian Berns and Amy Berns v. Hamilton Southeastern Schools and Hamilton-Boone-Madison Special Services, No. 10-3096, parents Damian and Amy Berns appealed summary judgment in favor of Hamilton Southeastern Schools and Hamilton-Boone-Madison Special Services on their lawsuit that the school system violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the provisions relating to special education in the Indiana Administrative Code by not providing their son M.B. with a free appropriate public education. M.B. suffered a traumatic brain injury prior to starting kindergarten, and his parents – based on the advice of a neuropsychologist – believed that M.B. needed to be in both sessions of kindergarten offered each day by the school.

The Berns worked with the school to develop an individualized education program, and the school provided some early education, at which M.B. showed progress in a number of areas. But when the Berns learned that the school would not place M.B. in both the morning and afternoon sessions of kindergarten, they placed him in an outside learning center and filed suit seeking reimbursement for M.B. to attend the center.

A hearing officer, the Board of Special Education Appeals, and the District Court all ruled in favor of the school, finding M.B. wasn’t denied a free appropriate public education. On appeal, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.  

The Berns didn’t meet their burden on appeal of establishing any type of procedural defect that rose to the level of a substantive denial of a free appropriate public education. The appellate court also found that M.B.’s individualized education program substantively provided him with a free appropriate public education. The evidence in the record showed that M.B. was making progress toward his IEP goals not only upon receiving early childhood services, but also while receiving extended school year services.

“Given that M.B. was making progress toward his IEP goals while receiving half-day, early-childhood services, it was reasonable for the committee to conclude that M.B. did not require double-session kindergarten to meet his needs,” wrote District Judge Joan B. Gottschall, of the Northern District of Illinois, sitting by designation.

The Berns aren’t entitled to any reimbursement for placing M.B. in the learning center because the evidence they presented to establish the propriety of the placement was “deficient in detail” and “general.” They also aren’t entitled to attorney fees because they didn’t prevail on any of their claims.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

ADVERTISEMENT