Deal v. Hamilton County Board of Education

392 F.3d 840 (2004)

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Deal v. Hamilton County Board of Education

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
392 F.3d 840 (2004)

  • Written by Nicole Gray , JD

Facts

Zachary Deal was autistic. When Zachary turned three, a Tennessee County Board of Education (defendant) developed an individualized-education program (IEP) for Zachary. During that year, Zachary attended a preschool-developmental class according to his IEP. However, Zachary’s parents, Maureen and Phillip Deal (plaintiffs), supplemented Zachary’s education at home with an applied-behavioral-analysis (ABA) program using structured teaching and comprehensive data collection and analysis. The Deals requested that the board fund the ABA program as part of Zachary’s end-of-school-year (ESY) services. The board refused to fund the program, but the Deals continued to use it with Zachary. The following school year, Zachary was prescribed special prekindergarten instruction and physical and speech therapy. Zachary only attended 16 percent of that school year; however, Zachary’s improvement was noted. The Deals continued meeting with the board regarding Zachary’s accommodations and again requested and were denied funding for the ABA program. For the 1999–2000 school year, the board proposed that Zachary attend a kindergarten developmental class, speech and physical therapy, and 15 minutes in a regular class three days per week. The Deals rejected that IEP because they still wanted the board to provide the ABA program; they also wanted Zachary to spend more time in regular classes. Zachary attended private preschool that year. The Deals requested a hearing before an administrative-law judge (ALJ) in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the board failed to provide Zachary with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and requesting reimbursement for private education. The ALJ found that the board’s predetermination of Zachary’s educational program and its failure to include a regular teacher in IEP meetings amounted to procedural violations, individually, which denied Zachary a FAPE. The board was ordered to reimburse the Deals for the ABA program but not for private preschool due to a lack of adequate notice. The Deals appealed the unfavorable portions of the ALJ’s decision. A United States district court reversed the decision, and the Deals appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Marbley, J.)

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