Stopping the Autism Shuffle


Both Parties File Motions for Summary Judgment

On August 3, 2012, the Law Center and Dechert filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the Plaintiffs. Defendants also filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs assert that based on the uncontested facts to date, summary judgment in their favor is warranted because there is no factual dispute as to the threshold issues underlying the class claims: (1) all putative class members have a “disability”; (2) they are “qualified” to receive educational programs and services; (3) the District is a “public entity”; and (4) putative class members are not required to exhaust their claims, and even if they did, it would be futile.

The undisputed evidence shows that Defendants unilaterally transfer children with autism from one school to another simply because they have autism, require autistic support, and complete a certain grade. In doing so, they exclude the students’ Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) team members, most notably the students’ parents, but also their teachers, from participation in these significant transfer decisions. The uncontested record also demonstrates that Defendants do not maintain and make available to parents an accurate list identifying the locations of autistic support classrooms. Furthermore, Defendants’ upper-leveling infringes putative class members’ rights as a matter of law.

The parties are awaiting the court’s ruling on the cross-motions for summary judgment.