Geraldo and Springfield Public Schools – BSEA # 06-4908
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Bureau of Special Education Appeals
In Re: Geraldo1 & Springfield Public Schools
Ruling on Parent’s Motion For Summary Judgment
This matter comes before the Bureau on the Parent’s Motion for Summary Judgment and the Opposition of the Springfield Public School’s thereto. The substantive issues presented in this appeal concern the actions and/or inactions taken by the Springfield Public School to ensure the attendance of Geraldo, a student with special learning needs under the age of 16, during the 2005-2006 school year. The Parent claims that Springfield unilaterally “unenrolled” Geraldo on multiple occasions in 2005-2006 school, without notice to the parent, without convening a team meeting and without providing necessary special education services in derogation of its obligations under the IDEA, 20 U. S. C. § 1400 et seq .; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U. S. C. § 794; Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U. S. C. § 1983; M. G. L. c. 71B and c. 76; and its own school handbook. Springfield opposes Summary Judgment, asserting that some facts essential to the Parent’s claims are in dispute and that, further, the issues raised by the Parent are not within the BSEA’s jurisdiction.
Some of the predicate facts are not in dispute:
1. During the 2005-2006 school year Geraldo was a 15 year old Springfield resident.
2. At all relevant times Geraldo was a student with special learning needs entitled to receive a free, appropriate public education consistent with the IDEA (20 U. S. C. § 1400 et seq .) and “chapter 766” (M. G. L. c. 71B)
3. Geraldo’s attendance at Springfield’s High School of Science and Technology was poor. Springfield listed him multiple times and for prolonged periods as “truant”. Springfield also unilaterally “unenrolled” Geraldo on several occasions during the 2005-2006 school year.
These undisputed facts alone, however compelling, are insufficient to support findings under federal special education and civil rights statutes. At a minimum the record must contain: documentation concerning Springfield’s engagement with the parent or other student custodian; the response of the Springfield special education department to the lack of implementation of Geraldo’s IEP; and an explanation of the administrative spheres of responsibility for, and communication about, attendance policies applicable to minor students with disabilities in Springfield Public Schools. It does not.
Summary Judgment pursuant to 801 CMR 1.01 (7) (f) and BSEA Rule VII is a convenient vehicle for resolving disputes in which, while the parties agree on the facts, there is a disagreement about the interpretation or the application of the relevant law to those facts. In this matter, facts essential to proper consideration of the Student’s claims under federal and state special education laws are either not fully developed or are in dispute. Therefore I find that entry of a Summary Judgment in this matter is not warranted.
The Student’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED . The parties shall submit a written status update, including a minimum of five mutually convenient dates for hearing, no later than November 10, 2006.
October 17, 2006
Lindsay Byrne, Hearing Officer
“Geraldo” is a pseudonym chosen by the Hearing Officer to protect the privacy of the Student in publicly available documents.