Skip to main content
Official State of Iowa Website Here is how you know
Decision Number
Louis S.
Mr. and Mrs. Peter S.
Iowa City Community School District & AEA 10
Full Text

Appellants sought reimbursement for 3 years of private school tuition; reimbursement for counseling and reimbursement for transportation costs for Louis to travel to and from the private school. The inquiry in this case is whether the implemented IEP for the 1992-93 and the proposed IEP for the 1993-94 school year were appropriate. If they were appropriate, the second inquiry of the appropriateness of the private placement is unnecessary. If the public placement was not appropriate, a two-part inquiry determines whether the district is required to pay for the private placement. 1) The public placement violated the IDEA; and 2) if the private school placement was proper under the IDEA.

IDEA states a clear preference for mainstreaming whenever possible. Louis' disability was mild or moderate. The Director of Special Education testified that based upon the information presented, a separate residential facility would not have met the least restrictive environment requirement, and would not have met the IDEA mainstreaming preference. It is questionable as to whether a residential program would meet the least restrictive environment for a student with Louis' disability.

Numerous conversations between the teachers and the parents, the parents and other professional were held. Communication could have been improved by the district/AEA in 3 areas: assisting the parochial staff to understand the special education programs and services available and continuing to make programs and services available to parochial students; immediately determining at the alternative school, CEC, whether there was an identified handicap; contacting the staffing team when a student with an identified handicap seeks to enroll in summer school or request a 504 plan. The parents share the burden of communication in these areas. The information shared by the parents about Louis was incompleted and the time allowed for the schools to provide meaningful intervention was far too short. Parents have the right to place their child in a private facility and seek reimbursement. But, as the Supreme Court stated in Town of Burlington, 471 U.S. at 374k, 85 L.Ed.2d at 397, 105 S.Ct. at 2005, "parents who unilaterally change their child's placement during the pendency of review proceedings without the consent of state or local school officials, do so at their own financial risk."

The Appellees prevailed on the issues in this hearing. The relief sought by Appellants was denied. Louis was entitled to enroll in the Iowa City Schools. If he does so, the Iowa City Community School District and AEA 10 must develop an appropriate IEP and implement it without delay.