The parents of a 9-year-old with autism claim that the Allendale School District is violating their civil rights by forcing them to send their child to an out-of-district program they don’t approve of, according to court papers filed this week.
The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Newark on Monday, says an emergent relief order granted last month by Administrative Law Judge JoAnn LaSala Candido, compelling the parents to submit their child to a program in Nutley, violates their right to make decisions about his education that are guaranteed under a due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The due process clause to the Fourteenth Amendment protects the right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody and control of their children, including decisions about their education.
Allendale filed for the emergent relief order in October saying the child would suffer irreparable harm because at the Carbone Clinic, a school selected by the parents, he does not have access to peers, a broad curriculum and does not receive a full-day program and related services.
The parents placed their son at the Carbone Clinic in October 2008 because, they claim, the school district did not make good on a promise to transition him from a home-based program to the public schools. The district, the lawsuit says, improperly managed his home program and the child’s contracted therapists, leading to a deterioration in his behavior.
The parents, also in October 2008, filed a petition for a due process hearing with the state Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, claiming that Allendale failed to provide their son with a free appropriate public education and seeking an order compelling Allendale to place the boy at the Carbone Clinic in the morning and in Allendale the rest of the day. They also sought compensatory education and tuition reimbursement.