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M v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago

July 7, 2010

M ET AL
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO



Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge Amy J. St. Eve than Assigned Judge

DOCKET ENTRY TEXT

The Court grants in part and denies in part both Defendant's and Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment [13][16]. The Court, in its discretion, awards Plaintiffs $73,861.03 in attorney's fees pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B) and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety. All pending dates and deadlines are stricken.

O[ For further details see text below.] Notices mailed by Judicial staff.

*Mail AO 450 form.

STATEMENT

On April 6, 2010, Plaintiffs Matthew M., a minor, and Mark M. and Julie M., individually and as parents and next friend of Matthew ("Plaintiffs"), filed the present lawsuit against Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago, District 299 (the "District") for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). See 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B). Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part both the District's and Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment. The Court, in its discretion, awards Plaintiffs $73,861.03 in attorney's fees pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B) and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Matthew is a 10 year-old boy who has cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, and autism. (R. 17-1, Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 1.) His school district of residence is Chicago Public School ("CPS") District No. 299. (Id.) At the time of the due process hearing at issue in this lawsuit, Matthew attended a class for children with severe or profound cognitive impairments at Christopher Elementary School in Chicago. (Id.; R. 22-1, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 2.)

In December 2002, the District determined that Matthew was eligible for special education services at his initial Individualized Education Program ("IEP") meeting. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.) The District specifically determined that Matthew was eligible for special education services based on his severe cognitive impairment, speech/language impairment, and his physical disability. (Id.) Matthew attended a CPS Early Childhood program from age three until age eight and then transferred to Christopher Elementary School. (Id. ¶ 7.)

From 2006-08, Matthew's parents arranged for private evaluations, including Dr. Joyce Hopkins' August 2007 evaluation. (Id. ¶ 9.) In her evaluation, Dr. Hopkins reported that Matthew would benefit from an individualized applied behavioral analysis ("ABA") approach to reduce his repetitive behavior and teach him more adaptive self-help and social skills. (Id.) On November 19, 2007, the District convened an IEP meeting that was attended by Dr. Hopkins, who presented her recommendations and written report. (Id. ¶ 10.) Meanwhile, Matthew's parents began -- at their own expense -- a home-based ABA program in June 2008 for four to six hours a week. (Id. ¶ 11.) After a September 24, 2008 IEP meeting, the District offered to provide Matthew with an ABA program for twenty minutes a day using CPS personnel who were not trained in the ABA approach. (Id. ¶ 13.)

On November 4, 2008, Dr. Hollie Sobel conducted a psychological evaluation of Matthew and reported that Matthew should receive continued ABA therapy. (Id. ¶ 14.) Dr. Sobel opined that the District did not properly address Matthew's self-stimulatory behavior and recommended placement in a non-public school setting. (Id.) On December 14, 2008 and January 14, 2009, the District conducted an IEP meeting to address Dr. Sobel's report. (Id. ¶ 15.) At that meeting, it was established that the CPS staff still did not have the proper ABA training. (Id.)

On or about January 1, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a written request for a due process hearing contesting the appropriateness of the IEPs the District had developed for Matthew and the appropriateness of the services the District provided under the IEPs. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 6.) In their written request, Plaintiffs sought the following relief:

* A determination that the acts and omissions describe a failure by the District to provide Matthew with a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") between January 2007 through the present.

* Placement in an Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE") approved private therapeutic facility that would provide for Matthew's need for an educational placement program and related services based on an intensive, systematic, and research-based approach.

* The maximum award possible for compensatory education services to address the District's failure to provide an educationally and functionally appropriate education plan for Matthew, including, but not limited to, reimbursement for the ABA therapy provided to Matthew at home and paid for by his parents.

* Any additional relief that the hearing officer deemed appropriate.

(Id. ¶ 7; Pls.' Stmt Facts ¶ 17.)

The hearing officer commenced the due process hearing on May 26, 2009 and continued it on May 28, 29, July 1, 2, and 14, 2009. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 8.) On September 21, 2009, the hearing officer ordered that:

* Matthew be placed at the Chicago Autism Academy for the 2009-10 school year, which is an ISBE-approved private therapeutic school providing a full-day year-round educational program with intensive educational and therapeutic services to address Matthew's core deficits in the areas of ...


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