‘Dangerous decision’ rules in favor of KISD in special education complaint | Education


One household intends to take the Killeen Independent School District to federal court docket after what an legal professional termed a “dangerous decision” was handed down in favor of the college district Monday.

In 2019, Stephanie Moody filed a proper complaint in opposition to Killeen ISD with the Texas Education Agency — and received — after she mentioned the district failed to acknowledge her daughter’s two crucial diagnoses, autism and an auditory dysfunction, and didn’t present the right special education providers.

Little modified at KISD for Moody, even after the state education company sided in her favor, which led her to take the problem again to court docket and, ultimately, transfer her kids out of the district all collectively in 2020.

“There was a compliancy plan put in place, and I was under the impression that meant we (TEA) were going to make them become compliant,” Moody mentioned Monday. “I honestly never understood why I was responsible to pay to take this to court after winning the TEA complaint.”

Moody’s daughter was identified with autism by a medical physician and personnel with the Belton Independent School District — one thing KISD had been unwilling to do throughout her daughter’s time with the district. But Monday, after 4 hearings of testimony, a listening to officer opted to facet with the college district.

“So, basically, the hearing officer made factual findings that the school did not identify Samantha as having autism, but that was okay; and that they did not really collaborate with the parent, but that was okay,” Moody’s legal professional, Sonja Kerr with Connell Michael Kerr, LLP, mentioned concerning the listening to officer’s choice Monday. “It’s a very dangerous decision. I’ve been practicing in this area of law for 34 years and this is one of the most dangerous decisions a hearing officer has ever issued.”

Stephanie Moody instructed the Herald Monday that she’s going to file a lawsuit in her daughter’s case.

“I feel like I am ready to move forward in federal court,” she mentioned. “We keep failing kids with special needs, we keep telling them it’s going to be fixed, and I don’t see that happening.”

The college district issued the next assertion on the matter Monday.

“Killeen ISD will continue affording students a free and appropriate public education,” KISD’s Chief Communications Officer Taina Maya mentioned in an electronic mail. “The district hopes that the hearing decision today resolves the matters set forth.”

In August, 4 special education due course of hearings have been held, at which era Moody and KISD introduced witness testimony, reveals and arguments.

Ian Spechler, an legal professional who’s a Special Education Hearing Officer for the State of Texas, issued his 25-page ruling on this case Monday.

“The Hearing Officer concludes that the district provided student a FAPE during the 2019-20 school year,” in line with the ruling. “The Hearing Officer also finds that the district complied with its … responsibilities under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).”

Spechler denied any reduction to the household of Samantha Moody and dismissed Moody’s claims underneath IDEA. The ruling states it might be appealed in court docket, which the household mentioned they intend to do.

“The decision of the Hearing Officer in this cause is a final and appealable order,” in line with Spechler’s ruling. “Any party aggrieved by the findings and decisions made by the hearing officer may bring a civil action with respect to the issues presented at the due process hearing in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the U.S.”

Kerr mentioned that the problem at hand goes far past the Moody household, having an influence on a whole lot of hundreds of special-needs college students throughout the state.

“Even though the State of Texas had found this school had violated the law in its complaint from 2019, the school district did not have to do anything to compensate the student for that violation,” Kerr mentioned. “So, this means that complaints to the State of Texas are also effectively meaningless. Most parents will just give up and not bother with a state complaint or a due process hearing. Instead, they will move to other school districts, or other states.”

Children with disabilities are entitled to have entry to a FAPE, underneath IDEA. As half of that legislation, all public college districts are required to supply an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each special-education scholar.

Stephanie Moody claims the district didn’t right the deficiencies in her daughter’s IEP that have been recognized throughout a 2019 TEA investigation.

During the hearings, the district maintained that its IEPs have been applicable, and the listening to officer agreed in his ruling Monday.

“Student had a number of privately and publicly funded evaluations and the district followed the recommendations from those evaluations,” Spechler wrote in his ruling.

Kerr mentioned this choice, if left because it stands, may have an enduring influence on college students and households throughout the state.

“What happens in states where the state education agency is acting like a leader is the state agency would react to this and say, ‘This isn’t right,’” Kerr mentioned earlier than including Texas is missing management on the state education company.

“If they (TEA) let this go, then they might as well close their complaint division because no district in the state is going to worry with getting a complaint against them.”