Richardson Indep. Sch. Dist. v Michael Z. and Carolyn Z. ex. rel. Leah Z.

50 IDELR 69 (N.D. Tex 2008)

This recent case is significant because the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas determined that the unilateral, parental placement of a special education child at a €œhybrid placement was appropriate and, thus, the parents were entitled to reimbursement.  A €œhybrid placement is one in which a student receives related services at a private facility and educational services in a public school.
The teenage child suffered from bipolar disorder, separation anxiety disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD and pervasive developmental disorder, and had struggled academically in the twelve schools she had attended.  The Court concluded that her academic difficulties were “inextricably intertwined” with her emotional and behavioral problems.  According to her medical doctors, she required extensive counseling to treat her psychological and behavioral problems.  As a result, her parents jointly placed her at a private residential facility and at a public charter school.
In its ruling, the Court determined that the unilateral, hybrid placement did not have to meet all of the IDEA’s placement standards to be appropriate.  Most significant is the Court’€™s further determination that the noneducational services provided in the residential facility are reimbursable if they are necessary for the child to benefit from her public school setting.  The Court concluded that the parents could recover $54,714.00 for the therapeutic services, nursing services, and neurological diagnostics which were necessary for the student to receive a free and appropriate public education.

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