Stories & Grievances
Parents of Audrey, a Child With Special Needs, Sue Illinois School District 7 and Two Law Firms For Denial of FAPE
On June 19, 2006, Brent and Annette Abata filed a six count civil rights complaint in the United States District court For the Southern District of illinois alleging that the attorneys at the firms of Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. and Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor,Ltd had conspired with SD 7 to deny their daughter Audrey and her parents their civil rights. The relief sought is: punitive damages and disbarment of the attorneys.
After trying for over two years to obtain FAPE in the LRE for Audrey (pictured at her Montessori school) Brent & Annette filed a six count civil rights complaint on June 19, 2006 alleging that attorneys at the firm of Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C and Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd had conspired with District 7 to deny Audrey and her parents their civil rights. The suit seeks punitive damages and disbarment of the attorneys.
CLICK HERE to download the six count complaint.
Audrey turned three on April 26, 2003 and an IEP (Individualized Education Program) was written that placed her at her home school. Unfortunately, after less than five months she was relocated to a school in the next town when the District needed space for non-disabled children.
On her first day at the new school Audrey came home with a choke mark around her neck. The school
District blamed the bus company. A few weeks later she came home with a black eye. The school District had no explanation. A few weeks later Audrey came home with a suspicious bruise on her torso. Since this was the third unexplained injury we requested that Audrey be transferred back to her home school.
The school district refused to send Audrey back to her home school and a special education due process hearing was initiated (a hearing that District 7 should have kept confidential). On December 2, 2003, we made a verbal request to review her complete educational file with her principal. CLICK HERE to see documentation of the request made on December 2, 2003. Illinois law requires that a school respond to a request within 15 school days. CLICK HERE for the full text of the Illinois School Student Records Act. CLICK HERE to see District 7's legal motion that argued that "there is nothing in the record to indicate that a proper written request for access to Audrey's educational file was made prior to January 5, 2004" (p.2 last paragraph).
SEE ALSO, the District's argument that the parents were not entitled to the very written evidence that documented the parental request made on December 2, 2003 (p.4, paragraph 1). (NOTE HERE that District 7's attorney (Merry Rhoades) was made aware of the 12/2/2003 request along with Becky Kolda, District 7's director of special education the same day the request was made).
CLICK HERE to see the verbatim transcript of Becky Kolda denying, under oath, that the parents made a
request for the complete record on, or around, December 1, 2003 (see page 50, lines 4-11). CLICK HERE to see paragraph 23 of the parent's verified complaint that states, under oath, that the parents had requested access to "Audrey's complete education records" on or around 12/1/03. CLICK HERE to see Becky Kolda's verified answer to paragraph 23 (made under oath) that denies that the parents requested access to their daughter's complete file on, or around, December 1, 2003. CLICK HERE to see again the record-of-access.
CLICK HERE to see again Merry Rhoades' argument that the parents are not entitled to obtain a copy of that document (p.4, 1st paragraph, last sentence). CLICK HERE to see again the Illinois School Student Records Act that states the parents are entitled to see the record-of-access (105 ILCS 10/6 (c)).
CLICK HERE to see the Illinois Rule for Professional Conduct (Rule 1.7) that prohibits an attorney from representing a client with a conflict of interest (the Madison County Complaint specifically alleged that Merry Rhoades had concealed records - District 7 retained Merry Rhoades' firm to defend it in that matter)(see paragraph 21 HERE); and, Rule 3.3 that prohibits an attorney making a false statement of law (such as insisting that a parent is not entitled to see the record-of-access); and Rule 3.4 that prohibits an attorney from concealing documents.
Appeal of Brent Abata