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MR v. LINCOLNWOOD BD. OF EDUC.

January 11, 1994

MR, by his next friend and father, RR, Plaintiff,
v.
LINCOLNWOOD BOARD OF EDUCATION, DISTRICT 74, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM T. HART

 This case involves review, pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2), of a student's proposed placement at a therapeutic day program. *fn1" Review is pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1401, et seq.

 
A two-part test is used to evaluate a state's compliance with the mandates of the [IDEA]:
 
First, has the State complied with the procedures set forth in the Act? And second, is the individualized educational program developed through the Act's procedures reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.
 
[Board of Education v.] Rowley, 458 U.S. [176,] 207 [(1982)]. If the state has satisfied the procedural requirements of the [IDEA] and the program developed by the state is designed to enable the handicapped child to receive educational benefits, the courts can require no more. The purpose of the [IDEA] is to "open the door of public education" to handicapped children, not to educate a handicapped child to his or her highest potential. Id. at 192.
 
* * *
 
Because judges are not trained educators, judicial review under the [IDEA] is limited. When reviewing outcomes reached through the administrative appeals procedures established by 20 U.S.C. §§ 1415(b) and (c), a district court can hear additional evidence and "make an independent decision as to whether the requirements of the act have been satisfied * * * based on a preponderance of the evidence." Lachman v. Illinois State Board of Education, 852 F.2d 290, 293 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 925 (1988). However, it must give "due weight" to the results of those proceedings, id., bearing in mind not "to substitute [its] own notions of sound educational policy for those of the school authorities which they review." Rowley, 458 U.S. at 206.

 Board of Education of Community Consolidated School District No. 21 v. Illinois State Board of Education, 938 F.2d 712, 715 (7th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 112 S. Ct. 957 (1992). The burden of proof is on the party challenging the outcome of the administrative hearings. Id. at 716. The case is before the court on the administrative record.

 The Level II hearing officer found that MR's behavior was deteriorating in his current placement and that he was becoming more disruptive to staff and other students. It was found that MR

 
exhibits bizarre conduct such as barking and acting like a dog including licking his hands like paws; getting up and moving about the classroom at inappropriate times; biting his thumbs and pulling his hair; physically threatening conduct, acting argumentative and being unwilling to follow verbal instructions from teachers; accusing other children of hitting him and trying to hurt him when a student brushed against him in the hallway; laying on the floor in the hall on his side and going around in circles kicking at all of the students that are in the immediate area and then remaining still and unresponsive; deliberately falling on the floor; getting in fights with other students at recess and interrupting other students' recess activities; refusing to use the bathroom for long periods of time and then only unless the bathroom was empty and watched from the outside by staff; being disruptive in an assembly to the extent of having to be removed and then telling his teacher that he was going to kill her; free association; walking around the room imitating a computer; making fun of other students' names; excessive crying; increasing use of verbal threats against teachers and students coupled with getting close to others and raising his fist; tantrums; hitting a teacher and an aide; screaming and swearing over the office intercom system stating that "I'm going to kill all you fuckers;" making faces at other students; leaving his desk and flicking the lights on and off; . . . ."

 These findings are supported by the record.

 The Level II hearing officer found that placement in the therapeutic day school was appropriate in light of MR's deteriorating behavior and the disruptions he was causing. Testimony that MR behaves in Hebrew School was found not to alter testimony about his behavior at Golf. The hearing officer noted that Hebrew School was for a shorter time period.

 A psychiatrist's January, 1991 recommendation of a self-contained program with mainstreaming was attempted. However, the psychiatrist stated that "any regression in [MR's] behavior in the school setting or a decrease in his educational participation may ...


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