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Friday, May 11, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two companion ADA cases out of Illinois today

The decisions are Board of Education of Township High School District 211 v. Ross, No. 05-3700 (“Ross I”), and Ross v. Board of Education of Township High School District 211 (“Ross II”), available here and here. The decision in Ross I begins:

WOOD, Circuit Judge. This case is about the responsibility of a public school district to provide an education to a student afflicted with Rett syndrome, which is a “neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by normal early development followed by loss of purposeful use of the hands, distinctive hand movements, slowed brain and head growth, gait abnormalities, seizures, and mental retardation.” See National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Rett Syndrome Fact Sheet, http:// www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/rett/detail_rett.htm?css= print (visited April 9, 2007) (“Rett Syndrome Fact Sheet”). The student’s parents, Michael and Diane Ross, believed that High School District No. 211 failed to provide their daughter, Lindsey, who suffers from Rett syndrome, with the free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to which she is entitled under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1414. An independent hearing officer held a lengthy hearing and upheld the District’s placement of Lindsey. Both the District and Lindsey’s parents then turned to the district court, which granted summary judgment to the District on all counts.

Shortly after the district court issued its opinion in this case, Lindsey and her parents filed a second lawsuit against the District and its Director for Special Education. As we explain in the companion opinion issued today in Ross II, the district court dismissed most of the claims in the second case on the basis of claim preclusion; it dismissed some supplemental state claims without prejudice. While we appreciate that Lindsey’s parents sincerely believe that her best interests would have been served better under a different plan, we conclude that the district court in both cases correctly held in favor of the school authorities and we therefore affirm.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 11, 2007 12:19 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions