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We keep you up to date on the latest developments in special education and disabilities rights at the local, state, and federal level.

RCGZ secures reimbursement of $400,000+ private special education expenses

Reisman Carolla Gran & Zuba recently secured a victory in a federal appeals court on behalf of its clients.

The clients—parents of autistic twins—argued that the School District of Philadelphia violated federal law by not providing a free appropriate public education to the twins. As a result of the victory, RCG’s clients are entitled to a reimbursement of more than $400,000 for the amount they paid out-of-pocket for private special education services for their children because of the School District of Philadelphia’s failure to provide their children the public education they were legally entitled to.

On February 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (the federal appeals court overseeing Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware) in School District of Philadelphia v. Kirsch, et al. affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of RCG’s clients. The lower federal court had ruled that the School District of Philadelphia violated the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and that the clients were liable for tuition reimbursement under that law because the School District denied a free appropriate public education to the clients’ children by failing to have finalized Individualized Education Programs (“IEPs”) in place for the children prior to them starting school in the School District in the 2013–14 school year. The lower court awarded the family approximately $318,000 in reimbursements for the basic tuition, Extended School Year, and transportation costs for the children to receive a private special education in the 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, and 2016–17 school years.

The Third Circuit not only affirmed the lower federal court’s ruling concerning the approximately $318,000 award, it held that the lower court erred by not granting tuition reimbursement for the twins’ 1:1 aides who worked with the twins in school during the 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16, and 2016–17 school years. As a result, the appellate court added $88,000 to the amount the School District of Philadelphia must reimburse the family (for the first three school years above), with an additional amount to be determined by the lower court for the 2016–17 school year.

The decision, Sch. Dist. of Philadelphia v. Kirsch, is available here.