Mary Ann Stewart and Claire E. Parsons are representing Boone County Public Schools in an appeal at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which is drawing national attention and may significantly impact all school districts in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan. The appeal, N.W. v. Boone County Schools Case No. 13-6514, raises the question as to whether public school districts are obligated to pay a student’s private school tuition under IDEA’s stay-put provisions, after there have been adjudicated findings that the parents unilaterally placed the student in the private school, and that the placement in the private school was unwarranted due to the fact that the public school was capable of meeting the student’s educational needs.
In the last year, Ms. Stewart and Ms. Parsons have litigated and won a series of due process challenges against school districts. Most notably, they were able to defeat a parents’ claim for private school tuition by successfully proving the adequacy of a school district’s implementation of a 504 plan for a child with a non-educationally related physical impairment. And, in yet another case, they were able to defeat a parent’s claim for private school tuition by showing that the school district could meet its obligation to provide a Free and Appropriate Education even if it could not provide an absolute guarantee of an allergy-free environment, but could do so by providing reasonable precautions to safeguard the child.