C.F. v. New York City Dept. of Educ.


There has been recent development in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the Second Circuit. In this case the Plaintiffs unilaterally placed their child, a child with autism, in a private placement, then they sought reimbursement of school placement expenses for the 2008-2009 school year under the IDEA.

The District Court affirmed the State Review Officer (SRO)’s decision denying the request. The court applied the three-pronged Burlington/Carter Test to determine eligibility for reimbursement and concluded that plaintiffs were entitled to reimbursement.

The Second Circuit vacated and remanded. Below is a snap shot on how the court determines whether a plaintiff is eligible for reimbursement. Notice the three pronged Burlington/Carter Test. If you placed you child in a private placement and you were denied reimbursement, you may be entitled to damages. Call Attorney Zimberlin to see if you can make a claim.

NEW DEVELOPMENT: The Department of Education’s (DOE’s) error was that they failed to include parent counseling or training in individualized education program (IEP) was a procedural violation of the IDEA, and DOE could not cure those violations by offering testimony that counseling and training would have been offered.

The Supreme Court has established the three-pronged Burlington/Carter Test to determine eligibility for reimbursement, which looks to

1)       Whether the school district’s proposed plan will provide the child with a free appropriate public education

  1. Courts examine whether there were procedural violations of the IDEA, namely, whether the state has complied with the procedures set forth in the IDEA.
  2. Courts “examine whether the (IEP) was substantively adequate, namely, whether it was reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits

Held: Department failed to provide C.F. with a free appropriate public education

2)      Whether the parents’ private placement is appropriate to the child’s needs

  1. Whether a placement—public or private—is reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.

Held: Placement was appropriate.

3)      A consideration of the equities. Id. In order to challenge an IEP, parents must first file a “due process complaint” listing the alleged deficiencies

The plaintiff’s father

1)       Attempted to find a 1:1 placement program within the Department;

2)       Attempted to make contact with C.F.’s Department placement site;

3)       He did not make plans to enroll C.F. in McCarton until after the Committee met.

Held: Plaintiffs had cooperated with the Department and therefore were entitled to reimbursement.

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