Student’s parents file suit against SoCal school district

— Parents of a South Callaway School District student are suing the district for allegedly violating the child’s rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Roger and Sharon Miller of Mokane say, in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri, that a 2008 evaluation showed that their son has ADHD, but the district did nothing to determine that the boy had a disability.

Attorney Deborah Johnson of Kansas City represents the plaintiffs and their son, who was not identified.

Superintendent Mary Lynn Battles said the district was issued a public summons the latter part of March and, as of yet, no court date has been set.

Teri Goldman of Mickes Goldman O’Toole, LLC., a St. Louis County law firm that represents school districts throughout Missouri, is defending the district.

Goldman’s office would not provide any details about the case, because the Miller’s son is a minor.

However, the family’s lawsuit said the boy has been a student at South Callaway since preschool, and that he had multiple referrals to the principal’s office — and was suspended from school several times — between the time he began second grade in 2007 and the 2008-2009 school year, when he was in fourth grade.

The complaint alleges that “despite these suspensions, South Callaway did not conduct any type of manifestation hearing to determine whether (the student’s) behavior was a manifestation of a disability.”

The Millers allege that South Callaway failed to determine their son’s eligibility for services under the civil rights statutes both the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the newer ADA.

Those laws make it illegal for schools to discriminate against students with a disability and require that disabled students receive services and programs comparable to other students.

The Millers’ lawsuit asks the court to order the South Callaway District to provide compensatory education services, monetary compensation for violating the minor’s rights and financial losses incurred due to the violation of those rights, and reimbursement for attorney’s fees.

The complaint also states: “In December 2008, Sharon Miller filed a complaint on behalf of her son against South Callaway with the United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.”

The lawsuit argues that, upon completion of the OCR’s investigation, there was sufficient evidence to support the accusation that South Callaway had failed to comply with the requirements of both laws, and the district entered into a resolution agreement with the agency.

However, in December 2010, OCR notified the district that it had not complied with the resolution agreement, according to the plantiffs’ complaint.

Battles said she could not comment on the case except to say, “The school attorneys are handling it, and we feel the outcome will be very positive for the district.”

Attempts to contact the Millers and their attorney on Friday were unsuccessful.

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