A recent decision from the 11th Circuit demonstrates, again, how important it is to follow a student’s IEP. This suit alleged that the student was “with some frequency, excluded and isolated from his classroom and peers on the basis of his disability.” The teacher’s aide had been taking the wheelchair bound student out of his classroom to the weight room. The student was not working out. He was, according to the suit, just “kind of….hanging out” while the aide worked on the computer. These removals from the classroom were not authorized by the IEP.
The court held that the district could be liable for a 504 violation if an “appropriate person” knew about the violation and was deliberately indifferent to it. In this case, the court held that the principal was an “appropriate person.” She was on notice of what was happening with the student, and failed to take proper corrective action. The same analysis applied to the general and special education teachers. There was some evidence that both of them knew what was happening, could have stopped it, and did not. Two coaches who were aware of what was going on were deemed not to be “appropriate persons” because they did not have supervisory authority over the aide.
The end result of this is that the district faces possible liability for discrimination based on disability.
The case is J.S. III v. Houston County Board of Education, decided by the 11th Circuit on October 2, 2017. We found it at 70 IDELR 219 and at 877 F.3d 979.
DAWG BONE: WITH LIMITED EXCEPTIONS, KIDS SHOULD BE IN THE CLASSROOM WHERE THE IEP PLACES THEM.