Parents Prevail in Their Appeal To The Third Circuit In a Special Education Case

December 18, 2020 in Client Alerts, Firm News

In an appeal prosecuted by Thomas J. O’Leary and Zahire Estrella-Chambers, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the lower court’s denial of parent’s claim for reimbursement of the tuition costs incurred in placing their child in a private school after he had been severely bullied in public school.

The parents appeared without counsel before a state administrative law judge, who made pre-trial and procedural rulings which ultimately led to a denial of their tuition reimbursement claim because the parents had not provided the school district with ten days prior written notice before placing their son in a private school.

O’Leary and Estrella-Chambers filed an action in federal court in Newark in which the district court judge sided with administrative law judge’s decision.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals vacated the District Court’s Order, holding that “in light of certain procedural irregularities and erroneous factfinding in the ALJ proceedings and the consequences for the District Court’s application of 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(10)(C)(iii), we cannot be confident that the Court denied reimbursement on a proper basis and thus will remand.” The matter now returns to the district court for further proceedings.

The case is K. E., et al v. Northern Highlands Regional Board of Education, case number 19:3771., __ Fed. Appx. ___, 2020 WL 7388081 (3d Cir. Dec. 16, 2020).

O’Leary’s special education law practice focuses on the representation of students with special needs and their families in the protection and enforcement of their legal rights under the New Jersey Constitution, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the American with Disabilities Act, and other applicable law.  When disputes arise, parents rely on O’Leary for representation in mediation, as well as litigation before the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law and in federal and state courts.

For more information, please contact Thomas J. O’Leary at (973) 757-1045 or [email protected].