Palo Alto Unified sued over autistic student’s placement in classroom
The parents of an autistic student are taking the Palo Alto Unified School District to federal court over its refusal to allow him to be educated at home, as well as other alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.
Filed in San Jose on March 3, the lawsuit says the district did not follow the 12-year-old student’s IEP, or individualized education plan, for 30 days as required by law when he transferred to the district last year. The plan called for in-home education but the district instead offered to place him in a classroom.
The student, identified only as “S.C.” in court documents, lacks the ability to communicate verbally and has a history of severe allergic reactions to food which is complicated by pica, a disorder characterized by persistent and compulsive cravings to eat nonfood items.
The parents subsequently filed an administrative complaint, which was taken up by the California Office of Administrative Hearings, Special Education Division. Administrative Law Judge Elsa H. Jones ruled on Dec. 13 that the school district had not violated the student’s rights under the disabilities act.
The act requires school districts to provide a “free appropriate public education” to all students.
The lawsuit seeks to reverse the judge’s ruling and force Palo Alto Unified to educate the student at home, as per his original individualized education plan. His parents also want the district to provide 40 hours per week of “applied behavior analysis,” two hours per week of individual speech and language services, and two hours per week of individual occupational therapy services.
“The decision by OAH failed to recognize these violations of S.C.’s rights and accordingly, failed to order sufficient remedies to ameliorate these violations,” the suit states.