July 13, 2023

DSB obtained orders from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirming the dismissal of three lawsuits against a Long Island school district that had been accused of discriminating against or otherwise violating its special education obligations with respect to a disabled student. The student’s parents had a preference for a particular middle and high school, which did not have an appropriate class in the student’s age range that met his needs, and thus the District offered and recommended placement in a special education class at another nearby school. This prompted numerous lawsuits and eight years of litigation, wherein the parents argued that the district failed to accommodate and generally discriminated against the student, that it violated the Equal Protection Clause by not having an appropriate class at the preferred schools at the time their child enrolled but starting one a few years later when a group of younger disabled students moved up from elementary school, and that it had violated its obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and related state and federal regulations. The lower court dismissed the actions and the parents appealed. After hearing extensive argument, the Second Circuit took the unusual step of holding its decision in abeyance and referring the matter for mediation, and the case became the first in-person mediation conducted by the Court’s CAMP program since Covid. The parties eventually advised the Court that they had reached an impasse and asked that a decision be issued, resulting in Orders affirming the Judgments in favor of the school district for substantially the reasons DSB had argued before the lower court an on appeal.

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