Stop the presses! School district sues state agency. Wins.

The leaders of the Minnesota school district apparently felt that they were being unfairly blamed. The state agency had issued a “corrective action” plan that required the district to provide compensatory services to three students due to the fact that the students received no services during the 2021-22 school year. It was true that the students received no services in 2021-22, but the district argued that it made the services available and would have provided them if the parent would permit it. The district sued the state agency.

The court ruled in favor of the district, noting that “parents have a ‘reciprocal obligation’ to cooperate within the procedural framework of IDEA.” The court focused on the words “are provided” in the law and state regulations, and held that the agency misinterpreted the term. “Are provided” does not mean that the services were “received.” It means that they were prepared and made available. The court noted also that the agency’s interpretation of the law “would result in liability and corrective action for school districts based on circumstances completely beyond their control.”

The background to this is COVID. The parents were fearful of their children being exposed. The court noted that the district offered in-school services, a pod where everyone would be masked, homebound services, and variations on those themes. The parents rejected every offer.

It’s In re: Special Education Complaint from Waconia ISD, decided by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. It’s published in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter at 82 IDELR 11.


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Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday! Booze at the charter school….