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Board of Education of Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 v. Illinois State Board of Education

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 26, 2014

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF PLAINFIELD COMMUNITY CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL DISTRICT 202, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, and ARIANA W. and AMANI W., by and through their Parent and Next Friend, ANGELA W., Defendants/Counter-Plaintiffs.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, District Judge.

The Plaintiff, Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 (the "Plaintiff School District") is organized pursuant to the Illinois School Code, 105 ILCS 5/1-1, et seq. The Illinois State Board of Education (the "ISBE") is the state agency that establishes the procedure for resolving disputes between students, their parents, and local school districts under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (the "IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. ยง 1400, et seq. Angela W. is the parent of Ariana W. And Amani W., 13-year-old twins who are identified as being eligible for special education services who reside within the Plaintiff School District. The IDEA was enacted to ensure that children with disabilities are provided with free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The Act contains procedural safeguards and Section 1415(e)(2)(F)(iii) provides parents and school districts the opportunity to resolve disputes through mediation agreements that are enforceable in state or federal court.

I. BACKGROUND

During the 2011-2012 school year, Ariana and Amani were fifth grade students at Elim Christian School ("Elim"), a private day school serving students with disabilities. On May 17, 2012 the District convened a meeting for Ariana and Amani which resulted in an Individual Educational Placement ("IEP") at another school, John F. Kennedy Middle School ("JFK"), beginning in the fall of the 2012-2013 school year. Angela W. expressed concerns about the ability of the proposed placement to meet the children's needs and filed a request for a due process hearing in which she requested continued placement at Elim.

On July 24, 2012, a mediation session was held before a mediator appointed by the ISBE. Angela W., with an advocate on her behalf, and three school district representatives attended the mediation session. A Mediation Agreement (the "Agreement") was reached which was reduced to writing. The terms of the Agreement included the placement of the twins at JFK beginning January 7, 2013, and provided for transition steps to facilitate the change from Elim where they would continue to attend during the fall semester of 2012. The Agreement further required Angela W. to withdraw her request for the due process hearing which she did.

The Agreement contained numerous provisions to make sure the transition between Elim and JFK occurred smoothly. The District and Angela agreed as follows:

1. Parties agree that Ariana will be placed in the same classroom with Amani at JFK beginning January 7, 2013.
2. School District agrees to provide an aide to support Ariana (2:1) during second semester of the 2012-13 school year.
3. Parties agree that Ariana shall visit JFK a number of times during the first semester at mutually agreed upon times.
4. School District agrees to provide a staff member to visit Ariana at Elim a number of times during the first semester.
5. The parties agree to work with Elim to facilitate the transition.
6. School District agrees to develop social stories in partnership with Elim to facilitate the transition.
7. School District agrees to provide a full re-evaluation after an agreed upon domain meeting.
8. School District agrees to contact the parent prior to initiating any major changes and agrees to consult with ...

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