Parents seek reimbursement from BISD for autistic child's private school expenses

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 15, 2010, 4:38pm

The parents of an autistic Beaumont child have filed a lawsuit against the Beaumont Independent School District to obtain reimbursement for more than $359,000 in private school expenses.

K.S., and his next friends K.S. and V.S., filed suit against BISD on Sept. 8 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

The child is an 11-year old student with autism spectrum disorder, speech impairment and other disabilities that affect his learning, the suit states.

"The parties agree that K.S. has been and continues to be eligible for special education and related services," the complaint states. "As a student with a disability residing in BISD's jurisdiction, K.S. is entitled to all rights, entitlements and procedural safeguards mandated by applicable law and statutes including, but not limited to, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act ..."

Under the IDEA, the school district receives federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education to provide K.S. with a "free, appropriate public education."

However the plaintiffs claim BISD has failed to provide the boy with an appropriate educational program, driving his parents to pay for an "at home" program and later a private school.

The child attended BISD schools from April 2002 until February 2003, but did not learn any system of communication. Due to the lack of progress, the parents removed the child from the school but did not officially withdraw the student.

A due process hearing was held in April, and the hearing officer issued her final order in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the school to reimburse them for cost of evaluation.

The officer also held that BISD was not required provide K.S. a free education and was not required to reimburse the parents for the costs of education.

"The primary reasoning of the hearing officer was that the parents had not complied with giving notice about private services and that the parents had not complied with a statute of limitations," the suit states.

The defendant is accused of violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act by not providing a free appropriate public education.

The family is seeking more than $359,000 in reimbursement for private school expenses, compensatory damages for injury, therapeutic services, including psycho-educational, psycho-social and educational services, non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasure and emotional distress.

The plaintiffs are represented by Dorene Philpot of Philpot Law Office in Galveston.

U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10cv00539

More News