ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Steven Wyner tries cases at the administrative level and does not hesitate to appeal administrative decisions to federal court when they believe that the hearing office has not properly applied the law. We have been successful in obtaining services such as the following for our clients:

Below are examples of cases where he prevailed at either the Administrative level or on appeal in federal court.

Student v. Redlands Unified School District
OAH Case No(s). N2006100159 & N2007031009

On March 17, 2008, ALJ Lepkowsky issued a lengthy OAH Decision holding that the District's failure to provide appropriate behavioral interventions for three consecutive school years resulted in a denial of FAPE entitling our client to substantial compensatory education and services:

1. 25-hours per week of direct, 1:1, in-home ABA services for one year to be provided by parents' chosen ABA service provide;

2. 430-hours of after-school, academic tutoring over 2-years to be provided by a B.C.E.T or a credentialed teacher, trained in autism and behavioral interventions. Student's parents were given authority to direct the focus of the academic tutoring on a weekly basis;

3. 390 hours of Lindamood-Bell reading remediation; and

4. A 'functional analysis assessment' in accordance with Section 3052 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations to be conducted by a qualified independent assessor.

Draper v. Atlanta Indep. Sch. Sys.,
2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 4813 (11th Cir. Ga. Mar. 6, 2008)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court (see below) and made it clear that all of the protections of the IDEA apply to rich and poor alike:

'We do not read the Act as requiring compensatory awards of prospective education to be inferior to awards of reimbursement. The Act does not relegate families who lack the resources to place their children unilaterally in private schools to shouldering the burden of proving that the public school cannot adequately educate their child before those parents can obtain a placement in a private school.'

The court is also highly critical of the conduct of the Atlanta Public School System in  first misdiagnosing the dyslexic student as mentally retarded, and then failing to make a meaningful effort to correct the error once it was discovered:

"The persistent refusal of the School System to acknowledge the substantial evidence of its misdiagnosis borders on incredible.

The School System complains of "disdainful references" to its witnesses and officials by the administrative law judge, and the School System describes as "caustic" the conclusion of the administrative law judge that the School System had "forfeited its right to continue to 'educate' [Draper]." The School System complains that the district court repeated these allegedly improper comments. . . . There is ample evidence to support the administrative law judge's description of Draper's educational experience as a "tragic tale," and there is nothing in this record that suggests to us that the findings adopted by the district court are anything but supported in fact. Although strongly worded, the decisions of both the district court and the administrative law judge are professional and temperate."

Draper v. Atlanta Indep. Sch. Sys.,
480 F. Supp. 2d 1331(D. Ga. 2007)

Wyner Law Group successfully represented a special education student, Jarron Draper, who was misdiagnosed as mentally retarded for over five years.

U.S. District Court Judge Shoob, affirmed an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision, finding that, even after Atlanta Public School System ("APS") corrected its misdiagnosis and identified the student as suffering from dyslexia, APS failed to take any corrective action to help the student make up for his years of lost education.

The administrative judge who had found in favor of Draper, said he was "incredulous that anyone, let alone supposedly trained professionals, could have deemed JD mentally retarded as late as 2003," and that “a lesser spirit would have been crushed” by the treatment Draper received from APS.

Wyner Law Group is now pursuing a civil rights action on the student's behalf.

The district court decision was affirmed by the Eleventh Circuit on appeal.

Goleta Union Elementary School District v. Ordway
248 F. Supp. 2d 936 (C.D. Cal. 2002)

This case involved a special education administrator who violated the law by unilaterally changing a student's placement.  In this decision, the district court held that if an individual commits a clear violation of the law, that individual can be held personally liable for damages. This case ultimately settled with the payment of damages to our client.

Elizabeth M. v. William S. Hart Union High School District
2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25786

This case involved two issues. The legal issue in this case dealt with the statute of limitations begins to run.  Although the law provides that a parent has three years from the date that the parent knew or should have known that there was a violation of law before having to file for due process. However, the California Special Education Hearing Office ("SEHO") would simply count back three years from the date the case was filed, and would not allow any remedy for violations that occurred before that date.  The federal judge make clear that this was not the correct way to calculate the statute of limitations.

Termine v. William S. Hart Union High School District

This case involved a student who had been placed in a nonpublic school by one school district, then moved to a nearby new school district.  The school district took the position that it could immediately change the students' placement to a public school program, even though it was possible to keep the student in the the nonpublic school until a new IEP could be developed.  The federal judge held that because the nonpublic school was specified in the student's existing IEP, the new school district had to maintain her in the nonpublic school, since it was possible to do so.

The district court decision was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit on appeal.

William S. Hart Union High School District v. Termine

This case is related to the one above. Here, the school district filed a second due process case against the student, trying to force her into its proposed public school placement. We prevailed in due process on the grounds that the public school placement was not appropriate for the student.  The school district appealed. The federal judge held that it was indisputable that the school district denied the student a FAPE, that there was no merit to the appeal, and that, in any event, the case was moot because the school district subsequently placed the student in the nonpublic school pursuant to an agreed-upon IEP.

The district court decision was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit on appeal.

 

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