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William C. v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago

OPINION FILED MAY 14, 1979.

WILLIAM C., A MINOR, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE CAMPBELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal originating from a writ of mandamus filed in the name of two trainable mentally handicapped children (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 14-1.05), William C. and Steven W., by their parents and legal guardians to require either defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago (hereafter Board) or defendant Special Education Cooperative of South Cook County (hereafter Speed) to undertake financial responsibility for the provision of special education services to the plaintiffs. The trial court ruled that the defendant Speed should educate the children at the defendant Board's cost. Only the defendant Board brings this appeal.

We affirm.

In 1969, the Board, after conducting diagnostic and psychological tests of William C., concluded that William was in need of special education. As the Board did not have a program in which to enroll him, a placement was arranged for William to attend the Mary Alyce School, a private special education facility in Chicago at the Board's cost. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 14-7.02.) William attended this school while he lived at home with his parents in Chicago and also after he moved to the Elizabeth Ludeman Development Center (hereafter Ludeman) in Park Forest, Illinois. In 1976, the Mary Alyce School informed William's parents that the school could no longer retain William in their program because his needs exceeded their facility's services. At that time, his parents obtained a placement for him with the Speed school district. Speed is a joint agreement special education school district (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 10-22.31) serving several south side communities, including Park Forest where the Ludeman school is located. William attended the Speed program from May to June of 1976 and planned to attend the 1976-1977 school year. However, although Speed initially approved his attendance, they ultimately refused to enroll him. Speed took this action because the Board refused to reimburse Speed for William's participation in their program from May to June of 1976 and would not sign forms authorizing William's attendance in the program for the upcoming school year to insure section 14-7.02 reimbursement. This action was contrary to the Board's assurance to William's parents that it would continue reimbursement when William entered the Speed program. As a result of this action, William did not receive any educational services for the 1976-1977 year.

Similarly, Steven W., also adjudged ineligible for the Board's special education classes, attended private special education programs in Chicago until August 1975, when he moved to Ludeman. In 1976 it was determined that Steven would benefit from a resumption of his class work. In that Steven suffers frequent seizures, his parents and the Ludeman personnel sought to place him with Speed as it was the closest program to the Ludeman school. Speed refused to enroll him on the basis that the Board decided not to grant reimbursement, although it had paid for his attendance at the Chicago program. As in William's case, the result of the Board's action served to deny Steven any educational services for that school year.

The plaintiffs' suit alleged that they were entitled to a free education pursuant to section 14-1 et seq. of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 14-1 et seq.) and the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (20 U.S.C. § 1411 et seq. (1975)). Accordingly, plaintiffs sought educational services from the defendant Board under section 14-4.01 and 14-7.01 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, pars. 14-4.01 through 14-7.01) or in the alternative from defendant Speed under section 14-7.03 of the School Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 122, par. 14-7.03).

Section 14-4.01 provides:

"School boards of any school districts that maintain a recognized school, whether operating under the general law or under a special charter, may until July 1, 1969, and shall thereafter, subject to any limitations hereinafter specified, establish and maintain such special educational facilities as may be needed for one or more of the types of handicapped children defined in Sections 14-1.02 to 14-1.07 of this Article who are residents of their school district, and such children, residents of other school districts as may be authorized by this Article."

Section 14-7.01 provides in part:

"If a child, resident of one school district, because of his handicap, attends a class or school for any of such types of children in another school district, the school district in which he resides shall grant the proper permit, provide any necessary transportation, and pay to the school district maintaining the special educational facilities the per capita cost of educating such children."

Section 14-7.03 provides in part:

"If a school district maintains special education classes on the site of orphanages and children's homes, or if children from the orphanages, children's homes, foster family homes, other state agencies, or State residential units for children attend classes for handicapped children in which the school district is a participating member of a joint agreement, or if the children from the orphanages, children's homes, foster family homes, other state agencies, or State residential units attend classes for the handicapped children maintained by the school district, then reimbursement shall be paid to eligible districts in accordance with Section 14-12.01 * * *."

The issue concerning which school district was responsible under the School Code to provide plaintiffs with an education arose from a difference of opinion between the two districts over the definition of the term "residence" utilized in the above provisions. In resolving that issue, the trial court stated:

"The school district of the residence of the parents of voluntarily placed children in residential institutions who are not wards of the state is the school district responsible either for financial payment of the cost of the education of such children under Ill. Rev. Stat. Section 14-7.01 ...


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