U.S. District Court Rules in Favor of School District on Stay-Put Motion

By September 13, 2018 News No Comments

In P.S. v. Kinnikinnick Community Consolidated School District No. 131, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois rejected the parents’ “Emergency Motion for Preliminary Stay-Put Injunction” and ruled in favor of the District as to the student’s applicable “stay put” placement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The dispute arose out of the IEP team’s determination to provide the student with special education services at the high school district beginning in the summer preceding the 2018-19 school year.  The student was most recently enrolled as a seventh-grade student in the District during the 2017-18 school year. But due to his age, the District, an elementary district, in collaboration with the high school district, formulated an IEP that provided that the student would receive his special education services at the high school district immediately after the 2017-18 school year.  This determination was set forth in a February 2018 IEP.

The parents did not challenge the February 2018 IEP.  Instead, the parents requested a new IEP meeting in March 2018.  At that March 2018 IEP meeting, the IEP team, which consisted of representatives from both the District and the high school district, continued to recommend that the student receive his special education services at the high school district beginning in the summer preceding the 2018-19 school year.  The parents then filed a due process complaint challenging the March 2018 IEP.

The District, defended by Kaitlin Atlas and Chris Schaeffer, prevailed at the due process hearing before the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).  Specifically, the ISBE Hearing Officer determined that the IEP Team’s determination to provide the student’s special education services at the high school district did not result in the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education.

The parents appealed the Hearing Officer’s decision to the U.S. District Court.  They also filed an “Emergency Motion for Preliminary ‘Stay-Put’ Injunction,” seeking an injunction allowing the student to remain in the District pending the completion of the administrative review.

The matter proceeded to an evidentiary hearing before the U.S. District Court.  The District, defended by Jason Manning and Chris Schaeffer, contended that the student’s “stay put” placement was at the high school district.  Specifically, the District argued that the student’s “stay put” placement was set forth in the February 2018 IEP, because that was the IEP that was being implemented at the time the parents filed for due process in March 2018.  Along those lines, the February 2018 IEP required that the student attend the high school district immediately after the 2017-18 school year.  The District thus argued that the “stay put” placement, under the last-implemented IEP, was at the high school district.

Following the evidentiary hearing, the U.S. District Court found in favor of the District and issued a “stay put” order determining that the student’s “stay put” placement was at the high school district.  Specifically, the Court found that the February 2018 IEP was the last-implemented IEP; the February 2018 IEP provided that the student’s services would be delivered at the high school during the 2018-19 school year.  The Court further noted that the student’s services and placement in a self-contained classroom would not change, even if the student was at the high school district.  Accordingly, the Court issued a “stay put” order finding that the student would remain at the high school district pending completion of the administrative review.

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