A November 1 decision by Administrative Law Judge Caridad F. Rigo has made it possible for a New Jersey child with severe traumatic brain injury, quadriplegia and an inability to vocalize to continue to attend the specialized school where he experienced marked success. Granting “emergent relief,” the judge ruled that changing the student’s educational program would cause him severe harm.
“S.B.,” as the child is identified in court documents, is fully dependent on others for all aspects of his daily living. He was placed in a school for students with disabilities by his local school district in January 2013, and made great progress while enrolled there.
When S.B. and his family moved to Piscataway in late August 2013, the Piscataway School District refused to allow him to continue at the specialized school. Fearing that significantly changing the student’s environment would cause him to regress, S.B.’s family filed for emergent relief against Piscataway and sought assistance from the Education Law Center. Denise Lanchantin Dwyer, Esq., of counsel to the Education Law Center, represented S.B.
Judge Rigo ordered Piscataway to place S.B. back at the specialized school. The judge held that S.B.’s severe disabilities and the progress he made at his former school demonstrated that he would suffer irreparable harm if he could not return there.
The judge also found that the family had proved that the program Piscataway offered S.B. was not comparable to the program at his prior school, as required by law when a student with a disability moves from one New Jersey school district to another.
“It was clear that the services offered to S.B. by Piscataway were in no way going to meet his needs,” Ms. Dwyer said, “and a comparable program hadn’t been provided without delay as the law mandates. I am confident that S.B. will now receive the education to which he is entitled.”
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