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Friday, September 23, 2011

A Case in New Jersey

The Morristown Patch reports:
Moorestown School District engaged in “gamesmanship” when it tried to put hurdles in front of the parents of an autistic child who wanted the district’s help to give their son an education, according to a federal judge.

Judge Anne [sic: her name is Renee] Marie Bumb ruled last week in favor of the Duman family, who sued the district in civil court after it refused to evaluate or provide an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for their autistic son unless he was enrolled in the district, even though the law— per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—says the district must provide services to any and all disabled students as long as they reside in the district’s boundaries, according to an article in the New Jersey Law Journal.
After three years of legal wrangling, including an appeal by the district after an initial ruling went against them, Judge Bumb ruled in the Dumans’ favor. Bumb was highly critical of the district in her ruling, calling the district’s position “troubling” and “indefensible,” according to a case summary.

She also said the district’s requirement that the Dumans’ son be enrolled before he could be considered for special education services served no purpose other than to “circumscribe the district's IDEA obligations and create a barrier to the provision of a free and appropriate public education,” according to the law journal article.

While the case was still being litigated, the district began paying for tuition for the Dumans’ son after the two parties reached an agreement last year.

Scott Duman said their son, now 15, attends the Y.A.L.E. School in Cherry Hill, another institution for children with social and learning disabilities.

Under Bumb’s ruling, the district is responsible for reimbursing the Dumans roughly $60,000 for tuition costs at Orchard Friends, as well as attorney’s fees for the 4-year-old case.