Can they sue you AFTER graduation?

When A.L. (aka “the plaintiff”) was a sophomore at Alamo Heights High School he was placed in the district’s special education program.  His first IEP went into effect in mid-April of that year, and set out four goals: self advocacy, task prioritization, task management, and a study goal.

That sounds like a set of goals that would be good for teachers, lawyers and other professionals!  A.L. is apparently a very bright student. He was taking many A.P. classes and eventually passed the STAAR tests, graduated and went to college.  So you must be wondering: what was the lawsuit about?

The parent argued that the district failed to “find” him on time, failed to evaluate the student thoroughly, and failed to provide FAPE. The hearing officer rejected all of those arguments and now the federal court has agreed with that.  However, the case is worth mentioning because of what the court did not do: the court did not declare the case “moot” because the boy had graduated.

Citing a recent 5th Circuit decision, the court noted “that a claim for compensatory relief under IDEA may not be mooted by expiration of special education eligibility.”  The parents sought compensatory relief in the form of tutoring to help the student in college. They did not get it, but only because they failed to prove a denial of FAPE or any other violation of IDEA.   Graduation in and of itself did not end the dispute.

The case is A.L. v. Alamo Heights ISD, decided by the federal court for the Western District of Texas on October 12, 2018.  We found it at 2018 WL 4955220.   We’ll talk about this one again tomorrow for Toolbox Tuesday.


 Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday talks about FBAs.