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BOARD OF EDUC. OF OAK PARK & RIVER FOREST HIGH SCH

July 9, 1998

Board of Education of Oak Park & River Forest High School District Number 200, Plaintiff,
v.
Illinois State Board of Education and Kelly E., by and through her parent and next friend, Nancy E., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENLOW

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 Defendant Kelly E. ("Kelly"), by and through her parent and next friend Nancy E., brings before the Court a Motion for Statutory Injunction to Enforce the Level II Review Officer's Decision. This motion arises out of Plaintiff Board of Education of Oak Park & River Forest High School District Number 200's ("the School District") action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (1998), against Defendants Kelly and the Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE") appealing an administrative decision requiring the School District to reimburse Kelly's parents for all costs incurred to educate Kelly at Eagle Hill School in Massachusetts. The administrative hearings concerned the special educational needs of Kelly and her appropriate educational placement.

 The present motion seeks a statutory injunction pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(3)(A) requiring the School District to comply with the review officer's decision and to pay all costs associated with Kelly's placement at Eagle Hill School until this matter is finally resolved. For the following reasons, the Court grants Kelly's motion and orders the statutory injunction.

 I. BACKGROUND FACTS

 A. Kelly's Attendance at Oak Park

 Kelly is an eighteen-year-old woman who first became a student within the School District when she enrolled as a freshman at Oak Park River Forest High School ("Oak Park") at the beginning of the 1994/95 school year. (Kelly E.'s Mot. for Statutory Inj. to Enforce the Level II Review Officer's Dec. ("Kelly E.'s Mot.") P 1.) Kelly has an extensive history of behavioral and academic difficulties, beginning in the third grade. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 4.) Kelly has been eligible for special education and related services pursuant to the IDEA since May 9, 1994, under the Behavior Disorder (BD) category. (Kelly E.'s Mot P 2.)

 During both the 1994/95 and 1995/96 school years, Kelly's parents sought intervention from the School District regarding Kelly's behavioral and reading difficulties. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 8.) Kelly's severe academic problems throughout this period are documented. (Kelly E.'s Mot. Ex. A, Level I Impartial Due Process Hearing Decision ("Level I Dec.") at 4.) During two years at Oak Park, Kelly obtained only half of the expected number of credits, and during her last semester at Oak Park, Kelly failed all of her academic courses. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 7.) On April 5, 1995, at a conference between school personnel and Kelly's parents, the School District's multidisciplinary team recommended that a psychological evaluation be conducted by June 1995 to determine whether Kelly had any learning disability. (Level I Dec. at 4.) No evaluation was conducted because the School District's psychologist believed that an 8th grade evaluation, indicating the lack of a learning disability, was sufficient. (Level I Dec. at 5; 6-7.) Although a self-contained learning-disability class was available at Oak Park, Kelly was never placed in this class. (Level I Dec. at 5.)

 Kelly was hospitalized in February and May 1996 and diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ["ADHD"], Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Polysubstance Abuse, and possible Bipolar Disorder. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 9.)

 B. Kelly's Move to Eagle Hill

 In September 1996, Kelly's parents unilaterally withdrew Kelly from attendance at Oak Park and placed her at Eagle Hill School, a residential school in Massachusetts, which serves students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and emotional and behavioral difficulties. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 10.) Eagle Hill School is not an ISBE-approved residential facility. (Level I Dec. at 8.) In February and March 1997, Kelly's parents obtained independent psychological and learning disabilities evaluations that confirmed that Kelly had a specific learning disability that had not been identified by the School District. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 14.)

 C. Due Process Hearings

 On March 28, 1997, Kelly's parents filed a request for a special education due process hearing, seeking reimbursement for the cost of Kelly's placement at Eagle Hill and the cost of the independent evaluations. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 15.) A Level I special education due process hearing was conducted before Impartial Hearing Officer ("IHO") Gregory Waas, Ph.D. on October 30, November 20, and December 10, 1997. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 16.) The Level I Decision, granting partial relief to Kelly's parents, contained the following order:

 
1. Within 10 days from the last day to appeal this Order, and sooner if possible, the District shall convene an IEP [Individualized Education Program] meeting for the following purposes:
 
a. Identify Eagle Hill school as the appropriate placement for KE [Kelly E.] through the summer 1998 term;
 
b. Indicate that the District will pay for all tuition costs for KE's enrollment at Eagle Hill (the District is not liable for costs associated with KE's room and board while at Eagle Hill);
 
c. Indicate that the District will pay for 50% of KE's travel costs for regularly scheduled school breaks/holidays.
 
2. The District shall reimburse KE's parents for the following documented costs:
 
a. All tuition costs for KE's enrollment at Eagle Hill (the District is not liable for costs associated with KE's room and board while at Eagle Hill);
 
b. 50% of all travel costs associated with KE's enrollment at Eagle Hill;
 
c. All costs associated with independent evaluations conducted by Ms. Mary Ellen Gavin and Dr. Richard D. Guerra.

 (Level I Dec. at 11.)

 The School District and Kelly's parents appealed the Level I decision. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 18-19.) Level II Review Officer Julius Menacker conducted the Level II Special Education hearing on March 12, 1998. (Kelly E.'s Mot. P 20.)

 The Level II Decision, issued on March 30, 1998, ordered the following:

 
1. The District shall, upon receipt of evidence of cost, reimburse parents for one of the evaluations of the student, which will be the first one, conducted by Mary Ellen Gavin.
 
2. The District shall reimburse parents for full costs, including transportation, associated with the placement of the student at Eagle Hill from the time of enrollment through the summer term, 1998.
 
3. At the conclusion of the 1998 school term, a multidisciplinary conference is to be held to determine the future IEP which will provide the student with FAPE [Free Appropriate Public Education].
 
4. The District shall submit proof of compliance with this order to Program Monitoring/Development Section, Department of Special Education, Illinois State Board of Education, 100 North First Street, Springfield, Illinois, 62777-0001 no later than 45 days from receipt of this order.

 (Kelly E.'s Mot. Ex. B, Illinois State Board of Education Level II Special Education Review Decision ...


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