Hartmann v. Loudoun County Board of Education

118 F.3d 996 (1997)

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Hartmann v. Loudoun County Board of Education

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
118 F.3d 996 (1997)

  • Written by Arlyn Katen, JD

Facts

Mark Hartmann (plaintiff) attended second grade at a public elementary school in Loudoun County. Mark was autistic; he was unable to speak or handwrite and communicated through limited typing skills. Mark’s initial individualized education program (IEP) ensured that Mark was in a non-special-education classroom with a carefully chosen teacher, a smaller class size, and a full-time aide who assisted him. A speech-and-language specialist worked with Mark for five hours each week. A special-education teacher provided Mark additional instruction and advised Mark’s teacher and aide. But at the end of the school year, the IEP team concluded that Mark had made no academic progress and noted that Mark had engaged in daily disruptive behavior in class, including loud screeching, hitting, biting, and disrobing. Mark’s IEP team proposed to place Mark in another elementary school at which Mark could receive academic instruction and speech therapy in a class with other autistic students, and Mark could join non-special-education electives and recess. Mark’s parents rejected the proposed IEP. In response, the Loudoun County Board of Education (the board) (defendant) initiated administrative proceedings. A local hearing officer upheld the proposed IEP, and a state review officer adopted the local officer’s findings. Mark’s parents then sued the board in federal district court on Mark’s behalf, arguing that the board had failed to integrate (or mainstream) Mark in non-special-education classroom settings to the maximum extent that was appropriate under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The district court reversed the hearing officer’s decision, reasoning that the board had not tried hard enough to integrate Mark and noting that Mark had progressed in math the following year at a different public school. The board appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wilkinson, C.J.)

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