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S.M. v. St. Tammany Parish Public Schools

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 9, 2015

S.M., et al,
v.
ST. TAMMANY PARISH PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

HELEN BERRIGAN, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, plaintiffs' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, and plaintiffs' Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees. Rec. Docs. 7, 19, 20. Having considered the law, facts, and memoranda of counsel, the Court hereby and for the reasons discussed herein:

(1) DENIES defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 7)
(2) GRANTS plaintiffs' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 19)
(3) Refers to the Magistrate Judge plaintiffs' Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees (Rec. Doc. 20)

I. Factual Background

The instant dispute concerns whether or not plaintiff is entitled to attorney's fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq. The following facts are undisputed. In the fall of 2013, S.M. was a student in the ninth grade at Slidell High School. Rec. Doc. 7-2 at ¶ 3. S.M. is an individual identified with a disability under IDEA. Id. at ¶ 2. On January 6, 2014, defendant convened a meeting of S.M.'s Individualized Education Program ("IEP") Team. Id. at ¶ 4. Prior to the meeting, S.M.'s IEP provided that he attend classes at school with non-disabled students for approximately 28 hours per week. Rec. Doc. 18-3 at 9-19. At the meeting, the defendant proposed that S.M. be placed in a homebound program with eight hours of tutoring per week. S.M.'s mother disagreed with the proposal and did not sign the IEP document. Id. at 19. The same day, and without consent from S.M.'s mother, defendant removed S.M. from his prior school program and placed him in the homebound program. Id. at 9-19.

The next day, on January 7, 2014, S.M. through his attorneys sent a request by certified mail for a due process hearing with the Louisiana Department of Education. Rec. Doc. 18-2 at 16-24. The request asked the hearing officer for the following relief:

A. Assume jurisdiction and set this matter down for a due process hearing;
B. Institute "Stay Put, " allowing [S.M.] to return to Slidell High School immediately in accordance with 34 CFR 300.518.

Provide the Complainants with the following relief:

C. Issue an order requiring the SCPSB to take the following steps:
1. Immediately return [S.M.] to placement at Slidell High School with appropriate accommodations.
2. Provide compensatory educational and related services sufficient to compensate for the educational time and ...

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