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7th Circuit rules school provided appropriate public education

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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.

 

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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