Making School Work Wins Three Lawsuits Against the 4th Largest School District in the U.S.

An Administrative Law Judge of the State of Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (Case Nos. 14­5679E, 14­5668E, 14­5669E) ruled last month that the Miami­Dade County School Board, which oversees the fourth largest school district in the country, violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for failing to adequately educate very intelligent triplets with learning disabilities and ADHD at a well­regarded STEM magnet high school, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST@Florida International University).

The students met the rigorous academic and behavioral admissions requirements of the school, but quickly landed on academic probation when the school failed to implement the accommodations and services mandated by their IEPs, including extended time, special education consultation, counseling and assistive technology for reading aloud all textual materials ­ including website content.

The school administration testified at the ten day hearing that it was not required to strictly adhere to their IEPs because of their magnet school status. The judge rejected that argument and the school district’s arguments that the high school students were required to ask for their accommodations in order to receive them.

The judge found that while the magnet school was “understaffed and ill­prepared for the demands of running a high school,” those circumstances do not serve “as an excuse for failing to provide the student with a FAPE, but they also do not rise to the level of intentional discrimination” under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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