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WILLIAM S. v. GILL

March 31, 1982

WILLIAM S., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DONALD GILL, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

William S. ("William"), a minor child, by his mother and next friend Geraldine S. ("Geraldine"), has brought this class action against a number of state and local educational officials and entities.*fn1 William contends he and other class members*fn2 are handicapped children entitled to an education paid for by defendants, including appropriate "related services" necessary to enable them to meet with success in school. William asserts defendants have refused to provide him those "related services," owing to a state policy of distinguishing between "educational" and "non-educational" costs and refusing to fund the latter. That refusal, William argues, violates:

    (1) Illinois' obligations under two federal
  statutes, the Education for All Handicapped
  Children Act of 1975 ("EAHCA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1401-61,
  and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act
  of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794;
    (2) William's right to equal protection of the
  laws under both the federal and state
  constitutions; and
    (3) Illinois' own commitment to handicapped
  children in Article 14 of the Illinois School
  Code, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, ¶¶ 14-1.01-14-14.01.

Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on various grounds. In addition, the local school district defendants have filed a cross-claim against the State Board and its officials and a third-party claim against a number of state agencies implicated by William's claim for "related services."*fn3 In that respect, the State Board and its officials have moved to dismiss the cross-complaint, and the other state agencies providing "related services" have moved to dismiss the third-party complaint.

For the reasons contained in this memorandum opinion and order, all the motions to dismiss are denied.

Facts*fn4

William is a nine year old suffering from severe multiple handicaps: moderate to profound bilateral hearing loss, mild to moderate functional mental retardation, and spastic quadriplegia affecting his left side. William suffers three to four grand mal seizures per day, though he is on medications that suppress, at least somewhat, the outward symptoms of the seizures.

In 1977 William was living with Geraldine within the jurisdiction of School District 25, Arlington Heights, Illinois. District 25 determined it could not provide a program appropriate to William's needs, as required by federal and state laws and regulations. Consequently William was placed at St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee for the 1977-78 academic year at District 25's expense. When the placement at St. John's proved "highly successful" for William, the placement and District 25's funding continued for another year. During 1978 and early 1979 William made "considerable progress" at St. John's in the development of communication and self-help skills.

All went well until Geraldine moved from Arlington Heights to Barrington, Illinois, within Community Unit District 220 ("District 220"). In June 1979 District 220 told Geraldine it would not pay to continue William's placement at St. John's, so that William would have to attend a public school program.

After the SEDOL summer program fiasco, Geraldine tried to place William in a number of private programs, among them those at Michael Reese Hospital, Chicago Read Mental Health Center, the Misericordia Program, the Augustana Nursery and the Glenkirk School for the Handicapped. All those facilities, except the Michael Reese Respite Program (a short-term diagnostic facility), concluded William was not an appropriate candidate for their programs, due to the severity and multiplicity of his handicaps. Both the Respite Program and Chicago Read recommended residential placement for William, rather than hospitalization or any other disposition.

Between July 1979 and July 1980 William lived with his mother in Barrington. During the 1980 spring term William attended Hawthorne School, a special education school served by SEDOL. Throughout the period William's behavior worsened, occasionally culminating in "acts of violence" toward his mother and 10 year old brother. Finally, in July 1980 William's parents placed him in the state's Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities/Regional Intake and Habilitation Program (RIHAP) in Tinley Park, Illinois. But the RIHAP placement was unsatisfactory to them, largely because the program was more custodial than treatment-oriented.

On September 15, 1980 District 220 held a multidisciplinary conference, as required by EAHCA, to consider the issues involved in William's placement. Those present included William's parents, RIHAP and SEDOL staff members and the parents' representative. It was the multidisciplinary team conclusions that:

    (1) William was a qualified handicapped child
  eligible for special education services.
    (2) Residential placement in a community
  "homelike environment" was necessary for William
  to achieve any possible degree of success in
  school.
    (3) Should such an environment not prove
  workable, the best alternative was residential
  placement in a private, non-public comprehensive
  treatment center.

Based on the team's recommendations, Geraldine agreed to a "trial placement" of William with specialized, state-licensed parents who were caring for one multiply-handicapped child and three mentally handicapped children. After two days, however, the foster parents concluded they "would not be able to provide Billy with the degree and intensity of supervision that he needs." Following William's discharge from the foster home placement, Geraldine returned William to RIHAP.

On October 25, 1980 District 220 held an EAHCA hearing to give William's parents the opportunity to contest the District's conclusions that:

    (1) It was not District 220's responsibility to
  provide a residential placement to a handicapped
  child when the reasons for such placement were
  not "educational."
    (2) If William were placed in a "homelike"
  setting within District 220 boundaries, the
  District could provide an appropriate
  "educational" program but was not ...

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