Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Middle School Student's Misconduct Determined Unrelated to ADD

In Hollingsworth v. Hackler, 53 IDELR 298 (Texas Court of Appeals 2009), the court reversed the denial of appellants' (principal and assistant principal) motions for summary judgment and rendered judgment that the parents take nothing on their Individuals with Disabilities Education Act claims brought under the Civil Rights Act. In this case the student made an obscene gesture at classmates who were making fun of him. An admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee meeting was held and the committee found that the student's behavior was not a manifestation of his attention deficit disorder. According to the case summary, a dispute ensued and the parents sued. The principal and assistant principal challenged the denial of their summary judgment motion under as to the parents' claim. On appeal, the court reversed and rendered judgment that the parents take nothing on this claim. The parents were members of the ARD committee that conducted the manifestation determination review of the student's behavior. The parents did not show that the disciplinary procedures applicable to children without disabilities required parental involvement in the school's disciplinary decisions, for purposes of 20 U.S.C.S. § 1415(k)(5)(A). There was no evidence that the district violated the student's rights under the Act by placing him in a disciplinary alternative education program for 45 days without referring the disciplinary decision to the ARD committee. Thus, principal and assistant principal were immune from individual liability to the parents for civil damages.

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