Houston Independent School District v. VP

582 F.3d 576 (2009)

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Houston Independent School District v. VP

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
582 F.3d 576 (2009)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

VP (plaintiff) was a child with hearing and speech impairments who lived in the Houston Independent School District (district) (defendant). The district identified VP for special education services and began creating an individualized education program (IEP) for her each school year. Although VP was identified as a child with hearing and speech impairments, the district continually kept VP in a modified regular education classroom with some additional services. The district provided minimal training for VP’s teachers on working with VP’s impairments. VP progressed through grades due to unauthorized assistance from the special education director rather than changes to her IEP. Because of poor academic performance, VP’s mother withdrew VP and enrolled her in a private school for children with language-learning disabilities for the rest of the year. The private school provided VP with auditory training, memory training, phonemic-awareness training, noise desensitization, sequencing-ability training, and gap-detection training, among other supplementary services. VP’s parents requested a due-process hearing to address whether the district had failed to provide VP with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). VP remained enrolled in private school for another year during the administrative process. Through testimony and evaluations, the hearing officer found that VP required a wide variety of specialized trainings to meet her education needs and that the district’s IEPs failed to include those services, denying VP a FAPE. The hearing officer agreed that the private school was an appropriate placement for VP due to its services and ordered the district to reimburse VP for tuition. The district appealed in district court, which affirmed the hearing officer’s judgment that the district denied VP a FAPE. The court ordered reimbursement of one year of tuition but denied reimbursement for the year during which the hearing process took place. VP appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Southwick, J.)

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