Special Ed parents need to sue to get results

How many times must Special Ed parents sue CCISD?

The short answer is, a lot. Lest you think that the Gibson report was brought about by recent abuses of Special Education students, think again. Clear Creek ISD has a long, sordid history of allowing Special Education students to be abused and bullied, then, in the words of Special Education parent Amy Fry, grabbing a nearby broom and rug to sweep it away. Here are just two examples.

C.M. b/n/f D.M. and K.D. v. Clear Creek Independent School District

Take a long, hard look at the June 24, 2019 CCISD Board of Trustees meeting agenda. See item A9? The one that reads “Consider Approval and Authorization of the Superintendent to Renewal of Settlement Agreement in Civil Litigation and Pending Administrative Matter Involving Student in Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00373 (S.D. Tex.) and TEA No. 262-SE-0515”?

Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00373 is formally known as C.M. b/n/f D.M. and K.D. v. Clear Creek Independent School District. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the nature of the suit is Civil Rights: Education. The cause of action is Civil Rights of a Handicapped Child. Here’s the background, straight from the agenda item packet:

In July 2015, Clear Creek ISD entered into a settlement agreement with parents of a student with disabilities.  Clear Creek Board of Trustees previously approved settlement agreement.  A provision of the agreement is annual renewal beginning with 2017-2018 school year through the 2020-2021 school year.

And guess what? It’s a $20,000 installment of a settlement. It has to be paid every single year. The total is $80,000 – if we’re doing our math properly. That, my friends, is in addition to the legal fees CCISD paid to fight the matter.

Lest you think that’s the only one, keep reading.

A. B. by and through Jamie B. v. Clear Creek Independent School District

But wait! There’s more, a completely separate case with completely separate parties filed August 4, 2017 as 4:2017cv02382. Here’s what we know: A.B. is autistic, has an intellectual disability, and has a speech impediment. A.B.’s parents filed suit because the child was placed in a more restrictive environment than necessary and did not conduct an assistive technology evaluation. The child did well academically, behaviorally, and socially in a general educational setting, but CCISD, as is the case with Special Education students, put the child in isolated instruction. The environment CCISD insisted on placing the child in was with children who exhibited the very behavioral issues he had overcome. Upon judicial review, the child and family prevailed.

This is what United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division had to say: “The record now before the Court supports the hearing officer’s conclusion that CCISD failed to provide A.B. with an education in the least restrictive environment (LRE), in compliance with the IDEA. There is no dispute that A.B. exhibited the most progress during the 2016–2017 academic year, within a general education classroom with in-class and resource room support. Despite CCISD’s claims to the contrary, there is no overwhelming evidence in the record establishing that A.B. is so limited in function, or so demanding as a student, as to entirely absorb a teacher’s time and create an undue burden, especially with a paraprofessional providing in-class and resource room support. … Also, in light of A.B.’s improved behavior, he is no longer disruptive in a disciplinary sense and has shown marked improvement such that he no longer exhibits task avoidance behaviors.” (Emphasis added.)

Broom, meet rug.

Keep in mind, these are just two of the cases where the parents of the Special Education children prevailed. There are other Civil Rights of a Handicapped Child suits brought to the U.S. District Court where CCISD’s overpriced lawyers from Rogers, Morris & Grover LLP have maneuvered the system in favor of the district. These suits may have had merit, but the parents may not have had the funds to hire attorneys that could outmaneuver these hucksters – who are being paid for by taxpayer dollars.

Is this why Special Education parents had to rent a billboard to get CCISD’s attention? To stop the broom from sweeping their children under the rug like a crumbled cookie?

We think so. And there are many Special Education parents who do not have the means to even begin to bring a lawsuit against the district.

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