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Successful Defense of School District in OCR Investigation

Successfully defended an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) against our client, a local school district, which was alleged to have violated the rights of a qualified student with a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. After being expelled from high school for drug-related offenses, the student was placed in an approved private school with which the district contracts to provide special education and related services for its students. Though the student was attending a private school, the district ultimately remained responsible for the student’s education and for ensuring that she was afforded all rights under Section 504 and the ADA. While at the private school, the student was involved in an incident during which she caused significant damage to school property and posed a physical threat to herself and staff. Her behavior prompted school staff to utilize safe crisis management techniques, including physical restraint, in order to help the student to de-escalate. Though the student suffered no physical injury, the parent and the student nonetheless claimed the use of restraint under the circumstances was unwarranted and violated the student’s civil rights. Working in collaboration with the district, the private school and its counsel, the defense was able to demonstrate the use of restraint under the circumstances was justified and necessary in order to prevent harm and further damage, and that the school staff involved, all of whom were well trained in safe crisis management, utilized restraint techniques that were consistent with their training, and with the district’s and the private school’s respective policies.

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