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Board of Education of The City of Chicago v. Illinois State Board of Education

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 1, 2013

ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION and CARMEN and DAVID ELLETT, parents and next friend of W.E., a minor, Defendants.


RONALD A. GUZMAN, District Judge.

Plaintiff, the Board of Education of the City of Chicago, asks the Court to reverse portions of the decision made by defendant Illinois State Board of Education in favor of defendants Carmen and David Ellet, parents of W.E., pursuant to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i). For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms in part and reverses in part the decision.


W.E. entered Whitney Young, a Chicago Public Schools Magnet High School, in the fall of 2009. ( See Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 1.) Though he had previously been an "A" student, W.E.'s grades plummeted during his first two years of high school. ( Id. ) In April 2009, W.E. started seeing a private psychologist, Dr. Marilyn Johnson, "to help figure out what's going wrong in school." ( Id. ¶ 2.)

On October 26, 2010, Carmen Ellet told Whitney Young's Director of Counseling, Norma Chinn, that Dr. Johnson had advised the Elletts to look into testing for W.E. ( Id. ¶ 3.) Chinn told Carmen to contact W.E's counselor, Ms. Hogan, and Whitney Young Case Manager, Elizabeth McKenzie-Carter, which the Ellets did. ( Id. ¶¶ 4-5.)

On November 19, 2010, McKenzie-Carter told the Ellets that an Intervention Assistance Team ("IAT") meeting would be held regarding W.E. on December 1, 2010. ( Id. ¶ 6.)

On November 20, 2010, Dr. Johnson wrote to Whitney Young staff, saying it was her "professional opinion that [W.E.] needs a battery of tests to understand fully why he is incapable at this point to achieve his goals." ( Id. ¶ 9.)

On December 1, 2010, the IAT meeting was held, and the team recommended that W.E. continue therapy with Dr. Johnson, see a school counselor intern as necessary and begin informal testing with the school psychologist. ( Id. ¶ 10.) The team did not, however, recommend that W.E. receive formal testing, and the school psychologist never completed the informal testing. ( Id. ¶¶ 6, 10-11.)

On December 29, and 31, 2010, at the recommendation of Dr. Johnson, the Ellets had W.E. tested by Dr. Gregor, a neuropsychologist. ( Id. ¶ 12.) On January 28, 2011, Dr. Gregor issued her report, concluding that:

[W.E.] has a weakness of his processing speed and speed of information processing abilities. Since learning often involves a combination of routine information processing (such as reading) and complex information processing (such as reasoning), a weakness in the speed of processing routine information may make the task of comprehending novel information more time-consuming and difficult for him. [W.E.'s] significantly depressed processing speed is likely a result of a combination of factors including: depression, ongoing marijuana abuse, and ADHD, all overlaying a somewhat perfectionistic personality style....
Taken together, [W.E.'s] behavioral observations, clinical diagnostic interview, collateral interviews, and current test findings support the diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder [, i.e., chronic depression], Cannabis Abuse, and Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder - combined type - mild.
Emotional psychological actors seem to be significantly contributing to [W.E.'s] presentation. [W.E.] and his family report ongoing (over the past year) and significant symptoms of depression including: irritable mood, oppositional behavior, difficulty with sleep, poor concentration, and low self-esteem.... Depression can impact an individual's mood, cognitive abilities, and behavior.... At this time, [W.E.] has a pessimistic view of the future. When asked about his future goals, he could not identify any. When asked about any three wishes that he could have, [W.E.] names his first wish to "be really happy."... [W.E.] currently reports a "much lower than average" self-concept... and reports significant and clinical symptoms of depression

( See Jan. 28, 2011 Gregor Report at 12, Administrative Record ["AR"] 1215-16) The Ellets gave Dr. Gregor's report to plaintiff. (Pl.'s Resp. Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(C) Stmt. ¶ 12.)

On January 26, 2011, defendants scheduled a second IAT meeting for February 9, 2011. (Defs.' LR 56.1(b)(3)(B) ¶ 16.) The record does not show whether that meeting ...

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