Stay put rule costs district over half a million dollars. Yikes.

I’m at Region 10 today for the annual Back to School tour. We have a bunch of BTS programs still to come, so sign up if you haven’t already:

Today we offer yet another example of how our special education system sometimes produces results that boggle the imagination. It’s a 3rd Circuit decision from the Philadelphia school system.  Here’s a short and sweet summary of a complicated situation.

Largely due to faulty communication, the district did not have IEPs in place at the start of the 2013-14 school year for two twins with autism. The parents created a private school and placed the boys there.  The court held that the district denied FAPE from September to December of 2013, at which time the district put good IEPs on the table for each of the twins.  The parents were entitled to tuition reimbursement from September to December due to the denial of FAPE.

You might think that since the district put good IEPs on the table in December 2013, that that would put an end to any district responsibility for private school tuition.   If this case was decided strictly on the basis of FAPE, that would be true.  But due to “stay put” the parents also obtained reimbursement for the remainder of that school year and all of the next three as the parties continued to litigate.  That added up to $466,000 along with a boatload of attorneys’ fees.

Let that sink in: the district’s failure to provide FAPE to two students for about four months cost the district well over half a million dollars.  The case of School District of Philadelphia v. Kirsch was decided by the 3rd Circuit on February 5, 2018. We found it at 71 IDELR 123  and 722 F. App.x 215.


 Tomorrow: reflections on American teenagers from the 19th Century to the 21st.