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COPAA Files 3rd Circuit Brief Urging Clarity on Reimbursement Remedy

Tuesday, February 21, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

COPAA filed an amicus brief in the Third Circuit, The School District of Philadelphia v. Robert Kirsch, Karen Misher, parents of A.K., a minoron January 4, 2017 in support of the Defendants-Appellees/Cross Appellants (parents and the minor child). COPAA offers a unique perspective on an issue raised by an Opinion and Order of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, District Judge Thomas N. O’Neill, Jr., dated June 1, 2016 (Order), because the Order affects all parties to proceedings under the Act. The issue is whether, pursuant to the Act and longstanding precedent, the District Court (1) applied the proper standard of review and deference in the consideration of the Hearing Officer (IHO) and (2) whether the reimbursement remedy ordered by the hearing officer was appropriate under the Act and Supreme Court precedent. COPAA respectfully submits this brief in support of the Defendants-Appellees/Cross Appellants.

This issue is of particular importance because the deference calculus applied by federal courts to administrative decisions and recommendations made by Magistrate Judges in cases brought under the Act has been found to be case dispositive. Moreover, the issue of remedy, particularly in cases that involve either reimbursement for monies paid for educational services or for monies owed and for which parents are contractually obligated to pay is of critical importance to all families in evaluating options in challenging educational programs offered by School Districts through the IEP process. As such, COPAA hopes that this Court will endeavor to clarify that, as a matter of law, families who do not engage in any of the conduct prohibited under the act in 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(10)(C)(iii) are entitled to seek reimbursement of educationally related costs (already paid for and owed by way of contract) as an equitable remedy for a School District’s failure to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Michael D. Raffaele , Frankel & Kershenbaum, LLC, filed the brief on behalf of COPAA, Selene Almazan and Alexis Casillas assisted in writing and drafting. Joshua Kershenbaum, COPAA member, assisted in the filing. Catherine Merino Reisman, COPAA member, represents the family. 

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