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7.02.2011

Howd & Ludorf, LLC Wins Summary Judgment in Federal IDEA Claim

Howd & Ludorf LLC Partner Alexandria Voccio won summary judgment for the New Fairfield Board of Education in an IDEA case filed in United States District Court in J.C. v. New Fairfield Bd of Education, 2011 WL 1322563.  This case involved an appeal from a final decision issued by a Due Process Hearing Officer finding that the preschool child’s myoelectric prosthetic arm was not assistive technology (“AT”) necessary to secure a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) within the meaning of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).  The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

The parents argued that the Board committed several procedural violations, including providing inadequate notice of a planning and placement team meeting; improperly changing the child’s primary disability category from “orthopedic impairment” to “developmental delay,” and denying them their right to parental participation by engaging in illegal predetermination and by unilaterally amending the child’s individual education plan ("IEP") without consideration of the parents’ objection.  The District Court rejected each of these arguments.

As to whether the myolectric arm qualified as AT, the Court affirmed the administrative finding that the myoelectric arm was not necessary for the child to receive FAPE.  The record showed that the child was highly adaptive and well-equipped to meet the task of her preschool curriculum without the use of a myoelectric arm.

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