On December 11, 2012, an independent hearing officer found in favor of an eighteen-year-old client of the Juvenile & Special Education Law Clinic (JSELC). The client, a student with a learning disability, attended high school within the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). For years, DCPS incorrectly labeled him as having an intellectual disability and developed individualized education programs (IEPs) based on this incorrect diagnosis. As a result, our client attended classes throughout elementary and middle school that did not help him learn the material he needed to progress academically. He entered high school and, again, received inadequate educational services. DCPS administrators illegally placed him on a "certificate–of-completion” track rather than keeping him on track for a diploma. DCPS also failed to provide services to help him transition to post-secondary education, work and independent living. These failures nearly drove the client to give up and drop out of school.
Working with supervising attorney Ramesh Kasarabada and building upon the work of previous clinic students, 3Ls Stacey Massaro and Yvesner Zamar filed a due process complaint and represented the client at the administrative hearing. After hearing nearly two days of testimony and reviewing about forty exhibits, the hearing officer found against DCPS and ordered DCPS to place our client in a private school, where he will receive the services he needs to learn, graduate, and transition into a career in computers. Our client will begin his new school shortly after the winter break.
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