Minnesota family, district argue over special education
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (AP) — A suburban Minneapolis school district is contesting a ruling that requires the district pay for special education services for a 16-year-old girl with severe anxiety who has not been able to attend classes.
St. Louis Park High School officials are contesting the ruling in U.S. District Court, Minnesota Public Radio reported .
An administrative law judge ruled in March that the district should pay for special education services, such as one-on-one tutoring, for Laure Holden’s daughter, who’s been unable to attend classes because of several health conditions.
“In the mid-eighth grade, she suddenly stopped going to school,” Holden said. “She wanted to go, she’s always wanted to go. ... She was having anxiety attacks and couldn’t get out the door.”
Holden’s daughter isn’t eligible for special education, district officials said. The district used standardized tests, a mental health screening, teacher input and parent questionnaires to come to the conclusion, according to court records.
The girl has a high IQ, performs well academically when she attends classes and has no social deficits, said Peter Martin, the district’s lawyer.
“It’s not just having a disability,” Martin said. “You have to have a disability that meets criteria, that adversely affects educational performance and by reason thereof require specialized instruction and services.”
But Holden’s lawyer, Amy Goetz, the girl’s strong academic performance doesn’t negate her need for services.
“This law is for children who are really smart, too,” Goetz said. “You don’t have to fail, you don’t have to be held back from class to class, you don’t have to be cognitively disabled.”
Martin estimates the ruling could cost the district up to $200,000 annually. A federal judge has stayed the decision’s enforcement as the case moves forward.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org