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Department of Education, State of Hawaii v. Ria L.

October 30, 2012

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE OF HAWAII, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RIA L., BY AND THROUGH HER PARENT, RITA L. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Helen Gillmor United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR STAY PUT

On November 29, 2011, an Administrative Hearings Officer determined that Defendant Ria L. had been denied a free appropriate public education, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. The Hearings Officer issued a Decision awarding Ria reimbursement and compensatory relief at her current school, a private placement.

The Department of Education appealed the Administrative Decision. On July 31, 2012, the District Court issued an Order Vacating and Remanding the Decision of the Hearings Officer.

The Department of Education stopped paying for Ria's private education and providing transportation to the private placement.

Ria, through her parent, Rita L., filed Defendants' Motion for Stay Put, pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j), asking the Court to order the Department of Education to resume paying for her private education and providing transportation to the private placement. (Doc. 33).

The Administrative Decision established the private placement as Ria's current educational placement for stay put purposes. It remains her placement for stay put purposes during the pendency of the appeal. The Motion for Stay Put is GRANTED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 14, 2011, Defendants Ria L., through her parent, Rita L. ("Parent"), filed an Administrative Request for Due Process, alleging that Plaintiff Department of Education of the State of Hawaii ("DOE") denied Ria a free appropriate public education ("FAPE"), in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.

On November 29, 2011, the Administrative Hearings Officer ("Hearings Officer") issued an Administrative Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Decision ("Administrative Decision"). (Doc. 1). The Administrative Decision held that Ria was denied a FAPE, and awarded Ria reimbursement and compensatory education at Autism Behavioral Consultants Group ("ABC").

On December 28, 2011, the DOE appealed the Administrative Decision by filing a Complaint in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. (Doc. 1).

On January 4, 2012, Ria, through her Parent, removed the action to the Federal District Court.

On July 31, 2012, District Judge David Alan Ezra issued an Order Vacating and Remanding the Decision of the Hearings Officer. (Doc. 27).

On August 3, 2012, the case was reassigned to District Judge Helen Gillmor.

On August 7, 2012, the DOE having ceased providing transportation and paying for Ria's educational expenses, Ria stopped attending ABC. (Defendants' Motion for Stay Put, Declaration of Amy Wiech, President and Operations Director at ABC ("Wiech Decl.")(Doc. 33).)

On August 22, 2012, Ria, through her Parent, filed Defendants' Motion for Stay Put (Doc. 33), pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j).

On September 10, 2012, the DOE filed Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Stay Put. (Doc. 36).

On September 14, 2012, Ria, through her Parent, filed Defendants' Reply Memorandum in Support of the Motion for Stay Put. (Doc. 37).

On September 20, 2012, a hearing was held on the Motion for Stay Put (Doc. 33).

BACKGROUND

Ria is a ten-year-old girl who is eligible to receive special education and related services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. Ria attended public school at Kipapa Elementary School until February 2011. Around that time, Ria's Parent placed her in private school at Autism Behavioral Consultants ("ABC"). (Administrative Decision at pgs. 31-32, attached to Notice of Removal (Doc. 1).)

Approximately one month later, Ria, through her Parent, requested an administrative hearing, alleging that the DOE violated the IDEA by denying her a free appropriate public education ("FAPE").

Following a six-day administrative hearing, the Hearings Officer found that procedural and substantive errors in Ria's 2009 and 2010 Individualized Education Programs amounted to a denial of a FAPE. The Hearings Officer issued an Administrative Decision on November 29, 2011. The Administrative Decision, in relevant part, awarded Ria's Parent reimbursement for tuition and other relevant expenses paid to ABC during the 2010-2011 school year, and compensatory education, in the form of placement at ABC for the 2011-2012 school year and summer Extended School Year ("ESY") 2012. (Administrative Decision at pg. 49.)

The DOE appealed the Administrative Decision. On July 31, 2012, District Judge Ezra issued an Order Vacating and Remanding the Decision of the Hearings Officer to determine (1) whether Ria's allegations of abuse, which were not addressed by the Administrative ...


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