5th Circuit affirms ruling in favor of Northwest ISD

According to the 5th Circuit, the plaintiff made two procedural errors in the suit alleging disability discrimination.  The plaintiff, a student with a disability acting through his parent, 1) missed the deadline for seeking a special education due process hearing which meant that he 2) failed to “exhaust his administrative remedies.”   If the lawsuit is mostly about an alleged denial of a FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) you have to go through the special education due process system first, and you have to do it on time. Then you can take your case to court.

The lawyer for the plaintiff tried to get around this by arguing that his lawsuit was not really about FAPE, but the court disagreed.  The court pointed out that the plaintiff had started out with a request for a due process hearing, albeit a tardy one.  This was “a strong indicator that the gravamen of his complaint is in the denial of a FAPE.” 

It takes good lawyering to make sure that the court notices these procedural errors and rules on them.  I’m pleased to let you know that Meredith Walker from our firm’s Irving Office was the lead attorney on this case, with strong support from our entire litigation team, including Houston attorney Morgan Beam. 

The case is T.B. v. Northwest ISD, decided by the 5th Circuit on November 23, 2020. 


Tomorrow: Legislative watch…