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Schroll v. Board of Education Champaign Community Unit School Dist. #4

August 10, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Bernthal U.S. Magistrate Judge


In October 2006, Plaintiffs Shawn Schroll and his parents, Lori Schroll and Dennis Schroll, filed a Complaint (#1) against Defendants, Board of Education of Champaign Community Unit School District No. 4, Champaign Community Unit School District No. 4 (hereinafter "District"), Illinois State Board of Education, and Dr. Robert Ladenson, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (hereinafter "IDEA") (20 U.S.C. § 1401, et seq.). Plaintiffs seek review of the July 17, 2006, decision of Illinois State Board of Education due process hearing officer Robert Ladenson.

In May 2007, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#21) and the District filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (#23). After reviewing the parties' pleadings, memoranda, and other materials, this Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (#21).

I. Background

A. Undisputed Facts

The parties stipulated to the following undisputed facts: Schroll is an eighteen-year-old high-school student who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (hereinafter "ADHD") and dyslexia and has received special education since enrolling in the District as a fifth grader. (Transcript, #11-13, p. 8; Record, #11-4, pp. 158, 160, 163.) Schroll has completed three years of high school with passing grades and is on track to graduate after completing his fourth year. (#11-11, p. 23.)

Schroll has difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, and math, and has an IQ score of 82, which places him in the low-average range. (#11-5, pp. 222, 242.) Consistent with his individualized education program (hereinafter "IEP") goals of accommodating or improving reading decoding, accommodating or improving written expression, accommodating or improving math calculation, accommodating or improving math reasoning skills, and accommodating or improving a reading deficit, Schroll receives classroom accommodations including orally administered exams, extended time for exams, use of a calculator or other calculation device, retests for unsatisfactory scores, and extra credit opportunities. (#11-4, pp. 166-73.)

In November 2005, Schroll stopped attending Central High School after an incident in which he was briefly abducted at gunpoint. (#11-5, pp. 221, 266; #11-9, p. 212.) During the two weeks following the incident, Schroll was hospitalized in a psychiatric facility. One of the facility's tutors told Schroll and his parents about the Dyslexic Institute of America (hereinafter "DIA"). (#11-11, pp. 18-19.) Also in November 2005, the DIA evaluated Schroll and scored him as follows: immediate memory at ninth grade, seven months; rate and accuracy at first grade, four months; fluency at first grade, seventh month; illusions at second grade; blending words at second grade, four months; nonword repetition at first grade, four months; visual motor integration at eleventh grade, two months; visual perception at tenth grade, three months; and visual/aural digit span at nine years to nine years, five months. (#11-8, pp. 29, 36-46.) The DIA recommended that Shawn participate in its tutoring program once per week for two hours for two and one-half to three and one-half years in addition to a home therapy program. (#11-6, pp. 60-62.)

In March 2006, Schroll transferred to Centennial High School where he continued receiving special education services. (#11-11, pp. 78-79; #11-12, p. 139.) Also in March 2006, Schroll's parents requested a due process hearing to determine whether the District should cover the costs of DIA tutoring. (#11-4, pp. 155-56.) In July 2006, after a two-day due process hearing, Hearing Officer Robert Ladenson issued a Decision and Order denying Schroll's request that the District pay for the costs of private tutoring. (#25-2, p. 10.)

B. The Hearing Officer's Decision

The IDEA requires school districts to provide children with disabilities with a free appropriate public education (hereinafter "FAPE") by (1) following the procedures set forth in the IDEA, and (2) developing an IEP "reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits." Bd. of Educ. of the Hendrik Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 206-07 (1982); Alex R. v. Forrestville Valley Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist., 375 F.3d 603, 613 (7th Cir. 2004).

The Hearing Officer found that children with disabilities similar to Schroll's have immense difficulty in learning to read. (Opinion and Ruling, #11-2, pp. 6-7.) Based on this finding, the Hearing Officer determined that an educational program for Schroll would be reasonably calculated to provide him educational benefits if "(a) it results from thorough identification and careful analysis of educationally relevant considerations in regard to the Student, and (b) the principal provisions of the program are implemented conscientiously by School District Staff." (#11-2, p. 7.)

The Hearing Officer found that the District had provided Schroll with an educational program reasonably calculated to confer educational benefits because the District developed IEPs for Schroll based on thorough identification and careful analysis of educationally relevant considerations. Id. The District has determined an appropriate class for Schroll at an appropriate level of instruction and used educational approaches designed to tap Schroll's areas of interest and motivate him to put forth educational effort. Id. In addition, the District has reviewed the DIA program and concluded that it is not likely to result in significantly greater educational benefit for Schroll than his IEP. Id.

The Hearing Officer also found that the District implemented Schroll's IEPs conscientiously. Id. Schroll's IEP called for supplementary aids such as reading test items out loud, having an adult write down Schroll's answers on written exams, and providing extended test time. Id. at 4. While the District has not followed through sufficiently to assure that these particular accommodations have been implemented consistently, none of them relate to matters that affected Schroll's progress in reading. Id. ...

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