Welcome to DueProcessIllinois.org


About Illinois Due Process .Org 

This site is dedicated to helping children with disabilities obtain an appropriate education. The laws supporting every child's right to an education are complicated. There are many fine sites which explain the basic laws and regulations for children with disabilities, and you may find links to them below. The purpose of this site is to provide a central location where you may obtain copies of actual due process decisions entered under the laws of the State of Illinois. These written decisions are entered by Independent Hearing Officers who decide special education disputes between students, parents and school districts. The Illinois State Board of Education maintains copies of all these decisions, and you may obtain copies of them by calling  at (217) 782-5589. The ISBE website contains a list and short summary of these decisions. (See note following here.)  These decisions are not published regularly as are decisions of other courts. To aid the use of these decisions, we are in the process of posting copies of the opinions here. We have also included other harder-to-find materials in our list, such as some decisions of the United States District Courts. Decisions of the United States Courts of Appeals for the last few years are available for free using LexisOne.com or Findlaw.com.

What is Due Process? 

Amendment V  of the Constitution of the United States of America
No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.
Amendment XIV  of the Constitution of the United States of America
Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 
Constitution of the State of Illinois of 1970
Art.1, Sec. 2. Due Process and Equal Protection.  No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law nor be denied the equal protection of the laws.
January 8, 2008:
We are moving the web host of this website, and migrating the files to the new server.
While we test the site, some files may be temporarily unavailable.
This site is still under construction.
We will be phasing the number of opinions and capabilities of this site.
Thank you for your patience.
Technical requirements  Some of the opinions posted here during the first stage of the construction of this site are in the Tagged Image Format (.tif) (fax quality).  If your browser does not have a plug-in for .tif, you can download the case file and view in your imaging application (Start>Programs>Accessories>Imaging). Macintosh users may use GraphicsConverter. Files with the PDF format can be read with the free Acrobat Reader. Occasionally there may be a file in a Microsoft Word Format. 
Contact  If you have a decision that should be included on this site, please email us at for instructions.
Report to us  To report a new decision or settlement to the Special Education Round Table, click Report
Warning Do not rely upon the information on this page as legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you have any questions.  The law is constantly changing, and your circumstances may be diferent. 

The Regulations of the Illinois State Board of Education are currently being revised.  Many of the decisions discussed below involved IDEA before the 1997 and 2004 amendments, and the outcomes could be different after the 2004 amendments to IDEA

Partial Table of Contents - Most requested
Links to other diabilities law Searchable ISBE Summaries Freedom of Information Act Access and Equity in Illinois Due Process - Report
Damages for harassment List of Decisions Non-consent for placement Attorneys Fees
TH v. Palatine decisions Alex case Lillie-Felton letter Ottawa v. US DOE

Links to other Disabilities and Special Education sites

Searchable ISBE summaries of Due Process decisions.

The ISBE summarizes the opinions from July1997, through October 2004 in several separate .pdf files.  Here is a link to a html file which combines the summaries into one file.  This combination allows you to search all the summaries at once instead of repeating the same search in all seven files.

After a gap of 18 months, the summaries started as of April 2006. ILDPSummary2006.html

Freedom of Information Act.  (FOIA)

   The Illinois Freedom of Information Act is codified at 5 ILCS 140/ sections 1 through 11. http://www.legis.state.il.us/legislation/ilcs/ch5/ch5act140.htm
   You can use a FOIA request to obtain information from any public entity in Illinois.  Some information is excluded if it is private.  In Bowie v. Evanston Community Consol. School Dist. No. 65, (1989) the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that schools cannot refuse to supply the information just by saying it concerns private information; they must comply with requests if they can redact out the personal and private information.  In that case, the parents of students attending that district's schools sought the disclosure of standardized test scores for students and a list of educational programs available in those schools. The school district was required to disclose record of achievement test scores under the FOIA in a masked and scrambled format.
   For a complete discussion and analysis of the Act, see the Attorney General memo:

Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Eligible for Transportation

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) in the U.S. Department of Education prepared a series of question and answers explaining its current thinking on the regulations controlling transportation for special education students.
Q&A Transportion
Transportation is a related service as defined by 34 CFR §300.34(c)(16) of the IDEA regulations and can include travel to and from school and between schools; travel in and around school buildings; and specialized equipment such as special or adapted buses, lifts, and ramps. A child’s individualized education program (IEP) Team is responsible for determining both if transportation is required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education and related services, and how the transportation services should be implemented.

Report (html, 32 KB) evaluates access and fairness of Due Process system in Illinois.
Access.pdf (pdf, 215 KB)
The results of Dr. Melanie Archer's analysis were startling. These preliminary statistics have caused considerable concern with respect to both the adequacy of the due process system in identifying and addressing parent concerns, the fairness of the due process system, and the adverse impact on the success of parents when they do not have access to affordable legal counsel.

Damages for harassment

Excellent article:  Mark Weber, a Professor of Law at dePaul University, has written a law review article:
Disability Harassment in the Public Schools, William and Mary Law Review, vol. 43, no. 3, Feb 2002.
 The article explains the need for antiharassment laws in our public schools, the current legal environment, and the need for courts to enforce current laws against schools and granting damages to compensate for actual harm caused by harassment.  Please check your local law library for a copy, use Lexis or Westlaw, or contact William and Mary Law School for a copy.

Retaliation. In Jenkins v. Rock Hill Local School District and Lloyd Evans(.pdf) the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a parent could sue the school district when it retaliated against her daughter who had diabetes. The school inhibited her First Amendment rights when she complained about the principal expelling the student because she had diabetes.

OCR memo on harassment
Peters v. Rome City School District
New York Case affirming jury verdict imposing $75,000 damages where the time-out room was unfurnished and had padding on the walls, door and floor. Although defendant notified plaintiff each time Christopher was placed in the time-out room, plaintiff did not observe the room until March 22, 1993, and she testified at trial that it lacked ventilation and had an odor of "dirty feet [and] urine," and she described the padding on the floor as ripped and dirty. Defendant's expert testified at trial that there was nothing inappropriate about the room. It is undisputed that Christopher was not permitted to leave the time-out room until he had remained seated in an upright position without moving for three consecutive minutes; that on at least one occasion Christopher fell asleep in the room; and that there were occasions when Christopher was confined to the room for periods in excess of one hour.
Eason v. Clark County School District (the Witte case)
Shawn Witte and Derrick Eason appeal the dismissal of their actions alleging severe abuse and excessive corporal
punishment inflicted by educators at Variety School, a public school attended exclusively by students with disabilities, in Nevada's Clark County School District. Shawn and Derrick both sued the District and individual District personnel for violations of their constitutional rights to substantive due process and equal protection under section 1983, the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and state law. In both cases, the district court held that all defendants were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity, dismissed all claims and taxed costs against Shawn and Derrick. We reverse the dismissal of the section 1983 and state law claims against all defendants, as well as the ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims against the District, because the Clark County School District is not an "arm of the state" and therefore does not enjoy Eleventh Amendment immunity.

Scruggs v. Meriden Board of Education (District of Connecticut, August 22, 2005),

Allowing a lawsuit to proceed by denying a motion to dismiss, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut permitted the mother of a special education student who committed suicide to press her claims that a school's failure to deal with the persistent bullying and harassment of her son constituted a violation of constitutional due process equal protection provisions, as well as intentional discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and conspiracy by a tacit agreement.

Also of interest is K.M. v. Hyde Park Cent. Sch. Dist., 2005 WL 1963939 (Aug. 11, 2005), which upholds claims against both the school district and individual defendants for pervasive and severe harassment.  Given the Alito nomination, his opinion regarding harassment undermining FAPE in Shore Reg'l High Sch. Bd. of Educ. v. P.S., 381 F.3d 194 (3d Cir. 2004) is of more interest.


List of Decisions
(to be organized later)
Board of Education of Elmhusrt-District 205 v. Daniel M. v. Gotha (Sept. 5, 2006) (177KB, pdf)  Parents stated a cause of action against the Special Education administrator under section 1983 for denying legal rights when she obstructed the construction of a proper IEP.  The issue of damages was postponed until the Seventh Circuit decides the Malone case.
DW v. Grayslake Comm Cons School District #46    (August 2002) (html, 86Kb)

Overriding the Non-Consent for Placement

Are Illinois Hearing officers giving schools powers not allowed by the law? Other Illinois opinions demonstrate that school districts often file petitions without jurisdiction: Note that the parents must file for due process to revoke consent

Attorneys Fees cases

Jessica P decision.pdf   (176 KB) Judge Manning granting summary judgment in an attorney fee claim.  CPS opposed the claim asserting that fees should bereduced or even eliminated based on a pre-hearing offer of settlement, and that the hours claimed were unreasonable.  Judge Manning rejected all CPS claims, and awarded the full $97,101.25 claimed by the parent.
Jessica P 2nd decision.pdf (ISBE4284) (95 KB) TD.pdf (52Kb) (Sept. 26, 2002) BrandonK.pdf (256K) (2001) JoseLuis.pdf (203K) (2001) Joshua.pdf (358K, 12 pages)  2000-C-0340 (08/31/2002)
    District Court denied fees where DP order was not better than school district offer made ten days prior to hearing.

Erik A. v. Bd Ed City of Chicago
U.S. District Court orders payment of 75% fee based on partial success.


T.H. v. Palatine .doc District Court Opinion (MS Word format)
TH v. Palatine , html level II due process decision
TH v. Palatine , html, level I due process decision

Jayden S.

Bd of Ed of Paxton-Buckley-Loda School District # 10 v. Jeff S.

 ISBE2274.tif   (974 Kb, 28 pages)
 ISBE2274.htm  (scanned OCR, 86 Kb)  JohnM.pdf (688k, 23 pages)

Seventh Circuit uses strict interpretation of Stay Put

The stay put in John M was appealed to the Seventh Circuit which ruled:
In enacting the stay-put provision, Congress intended "to strip schools of the unilateral authority they had traditionally employed to exclude disabled students . . . from school." ...A child's interim educational regime must produce as closely as possible the overall educational experience enjoyed by the child under his previous IEP.
To achieve that result, we must recognize that educational methodologies, appropriate and even necessary in one educational environment, are not always effective in another time and  place in serving a child's continuing educational needs and goals. Nevertheless, when asked to approve an alteration in educational methodology in a stay-put order, we must give careful attention to the purpose of the stay-put provision. The recognized and defined special needs of the child and the educational goals originally set by the parents and by professional educators must be respected. Protestations that educational methodologies proven to be helpful to the child in the past are now impossible must be evaluated with a critical eye to ensure that motivations other than those compatible with the statute, such as bureaucratic inertia, are not driving the decision.

John M-7th Circuit Appeal on Stay Put (123 KB) (2007)

see also OY v. CPS, stay put order(178 kb)  (Oct 2008)  JL v. Oswego Unit School District (342K 12 pages)
The Illinois supreme court affirmed, holding that tort did not apply to the school district.
Although the complaint does contain allegations that the Board failed to prevent a
sexual assault, it also contains allegations implicating willful and wanton conduct
based on allowing the bus to operate without supervision, knowing that the
perpetrator was not to be left unsupervised among other children. 213 Ill. 2d 19 (2004)

Hernandez v. Board of Education of City of Chicago (18 pages)

Child Find
ISBE3851.htm (Jessica P. v. Chicago Public Schools) ISBE3851.doc

Egregious School District Behaviour


The simple fact that a student is advancing from grade to grade is not per se evidence of an appropriate education

 Lillie Felton
This OSEP Policy letter from 1995 explains:

New: Dear Colleague Letter: Access by Students with Disabilities to Accelerated Programs, December 26, 2007

"Participation by a student with a disability in an accelerated class or program generally would be considered part of the regular education or the regular classes referenced in the Section 504 and the IDEA regulations.  Thus, if a qualified student with a disability requires related aids and services to participate in a regular education class or program, then a school cannot deny that student the needed related aids and services in an accelerated class or program.  For example, if a student’s IEP or plan under Section 504 provides for Braille materials in order to participate in the regular education program and she enrolls in an accelerated or advanced history class, then she also must receive Braille materials for that class.  The same would be true for other needed related aids and services such as extended time on tests or the use of a computer to take notes.

Conditioning enrollment in an advanced class or program on the forfeiture of needed special education or related aids and services is also inconsistent with the principle of individualized determinations, which is a key procedural aspect of the IDEA, Section 504 and Title II.  As noted above, under Section 504, the provision of FAPE is based on the student’s individual education needs as determined through specific procedures--generally, an evaluation in accordance with Section 504 requirements.  34 CFR 104.35.  An individualized determination may result in a decision that a qualified student with a disability requires related aids and services for some or all of his regular education classes or his program.  Likewise, the IDEA contains specific procedures for evaluations and for the development of IEPs that require individualized determinations.  See 34 CFR 300.301 through 300.328.  The requirement for individualized determinations is violated when schools ignore the student’s individual needs and automatically deny a qualified student with a disability needed related aids and services in an accelerated class or program. "

Access by Students with Disabilities to Accelerated Programs

This theme is reflected in Kent T. v. Elmhurst Community School District #205 (N.D. Ill. 2002)  http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/2002/IL.kevint.elmhurst.pdf
 "a child's capicity to learn must also be considered when evaluating an IEP," and citing Bd of Ed Oak Park River Forest #200 (N.D. Ill.    ) 21 F. Supp at 877: "the district failed to institute a 'systematic and comprehensive plan to deal with [the student's] reading difficulties,' and that '[s]uch a failure was manifested ... by the absence of any goals or objectives that specifically addresses these reading deficits.'"
See also Mary P.v. ISBE, (html)  (U.S. Dist Ct, N.D. Ill. 1996): Zachery v. Monticello Community School District No. 25, ISBE 07-0145
Asperger child was entitled to an IEP even though he met academic acheivement level, but lacked social skills.

School must use some methodology

Frank H v. CPS, 2007 - 0182 Petrina v. CPS Feb. 4, 2008.(scanned pdf, 32 pages, 2.87 MB)
School provided no systematic research-based methodology and questionable content for teaching a student to read. No phonics or other methodology, no goals tailored to meet her individual needs.

Petties v. District of Columbia:   School District must supply the services listed in IEP.

Ash v. Lake Oswego School District (9th Cir. 1992)

Letter to Zirkel (OCR 1993)
The standard of services is not "reasonable accommodation" or other limited services.
 IDEA requires complete FAPE (Free, Appropriate Public Education).

Eric A. v. Chicago Public Schools, ISBE 4514 (2005).
A district is entitled to establish its own curriculum and instructional techniques as long as they successfully meet students' needs, providing FAPE. If the district does not develop and/or implement an IEP that provides the student with FAPE, parents may request that the district pay for private instruction and/or related services in order to provide FAPE, or they may request compensatory education. Florence County School Dist. v. Carter, 510 U.S. 374 (1993); Burlington School Committee v. Massachusetts Dept. of Educ., 471 U.S. 374 (1985). While the IEP must be provided in the least restrictive environment "to the maximum extent appropriate," the law also allows removal to more restrictive environment as necessitated by the nature and severity of the child’s disability. 105 ILCS 5/14-8.02(d) (2002) While the District’s curriculum and techniques must provide "educational benefit," that requirement is not the equivalent of providing the "most" beneficial possible services or requiring that the student achieve his highest potential. Board of Educ. of Murphysboro Community Unit School Dist. No. 186 v. Ill. St. Bd. of Educ., 41 F.3d 1162, 1167 (7th Cir. 1994), citing, Board of Educ. of Sch. Dist. No. 21 v. Ill. St. Bd. of Educ., 938 F.2d 712, 715 (7th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, -- U.S. --, 112 S. Ct. 957, 117 L.Ed.2d 124 (1992).
Jason S. v. Chicago Public Schools, ISBE 4526 (2005)
In light of the Parent's experience with the District, which delegated her many attempts to get help from the highest level down through the bureaucracy with no relief ever ensuing, she is right to have no faith that CPS will provide FAPE for her son.
Thus it is ordered:
1. That District pay for placement in a private therapeutic day school.
2. That District pay for cognitive, psychosocial, speech/language, and assistive technology assessments either administered by the therapeutic day school or by independent evaluators .
Jason A. Chciago Public Schools, ISBE 4331 (2005)

Michael S. v. CPS, ISBE 2007-007 (2007) (130 KB)

In JB, IHO Alan Cook ordered residential placement at CPS expense for a 14 year old girl who has been on runaway status or intermittently hospitalized for about 18 months.  He also accepted a recommendation that, as a compensatory service, CPS pay for monthly visits by the child’s guardian.  ISBE 2007-0175 (pdf scan 1290 KB)

"The IEP should respond to the needs and disabilities attributable to the student at the time the IEP is developed.  If residential placement is appropriate, it should be given to the student.  It is not necessary to first go through unsuccessful placements in regular education and therapeutic day school programs."

By contrast, in ISBE case number 2008-0211  Officer Wolters wrote:

Finally, the parent argued that it makes no difference whether the student exhibited aggressive behavior in school or only at home. The parent contends that if the student required a residential placement because of aggressive behavior at home, the district has the responsibility for providing the student with a free appropriate public education and therefore responsible for providing the student with a residential placement Independent School Dist. No. 284 F 3d 769, 77 (8th Cir 2001).  The district countered that educational needs for residential placement and non-educational needs for residential placement are distinguishable and relevant in determining whether the district is required to provide a student with a residential placement Dale M. v. Bd. Of Ed. Of Bradley-Bourbonnas High School Dist.No. 307, 237 F.3d 813, 817 (7th Cir. 2001).

Assessment and Independent Evaluation

In FS, IHO Schwartz ordered an IEE to assess LD issues for a 10 yr old with severe EBD.  This is a preliminary order.  The case remained open for issue of placement following the evaluation. ISBE 2007-0182 (30 KB).  The final opinion is listed above (Frank).

"Although all the student's IEPs have consistently noted reading problems and consistently indicate that the student is reading below grade level, the district has never provided a learning disability or reading evaluation for the student. There has been no investigation as to whether the student's documented reading deficiencies or a learning disability have an impact on his behavioral problems. This hearing officer cannot determine whether there are services to which the student may be entitled without such an assessment."

Board of Ed of Ottawa Township v. U.S. Department of Education

Two Illinois school districts have  sued the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that some of the accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act should be invalidated because they are in direct conflict with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The responsive pleadings give a great explanation of the NCLB.  The U.S. District Court dismissed the complaint, stating that the plaintiffs failed to state an injury.  The school districts refiled, alleging that if they taught the children reading and writing to pass the NCLB, they would decrease the instruction in the functional curriculum of communication and daily living skills, and a child might lose self-esteem in taking harder courses.  The U.S. has moved to dismiss the second complaint as well.

The Complaint:

U.S. Dept Ed motion to dismiss, and response State of Illinois motion to dismiss, the response and the reply: order dismissing first complaint

motion to dismiss amended complaint

Judgment dismissing complaint (March 31, 2007, 46 KB)

Appellate decision affirming dismissal (Feb 11, 2008, .pdf 85 KB)
Dist. Ct. erred in finding that plaintiffs-school districts lacked standing to bring action seeking declaration that requirements of No Child Left Behind Act were subordinate to requirements set forth in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) where basis for Dist. Ct.'s ruling was observation that plaintiffs could resolve any conflicts by simply turning down federal money awarded under said statutes and thereby escape any conflicting obligations. Plaintiffs had standing to bring instant action since condition on federal grants can cause concrete injury that would establish standing requirement even if said condition could be avoided by turning down money. However, remand was not necessary since plaintiffs' lawsuit was not meritorious since requirements of IDEA, which had been enacted prior to No Child Left Behind Act, were subordinate to No Child Left Behind Act.

Is the implication that the NCLB would trump any provision of of IDEA which conflicted with it?

FC v. Palmyra Board of Education  (New Jersery Admin decision on Section 504) http://lawlibrary.rutgers.edu/oaldecisions/initial/eds11898-96.html
  and from the end, the HO's decision...

ISBE5104 Chelsea B. vs. Bd of Ed of City of Chicago #299 ISBE4498 Sarah N. v. Yorkwood Community Unit Sch Dist 225
(pdf, 471 KB) ISBE4990 Octavia B. v. Bd Ed City of Chicago #299  (pdf, 871 KB) ISBE4948 Christopher J. v. Bd of Ed of City of Chicago #299
Interim order (pdf 28 KB) (denying IEE)
Decision (pdf 159 KB)

Brett K v. Momence SD pdf (2.45 MB)
Decision by Judge Zagel regarding transportation for a 9 yr old boy with autism, who is nonverbal and incontinent.  The family lives in Kankakee County, and the boy's IEP provides for a private therapeutic day placement in southern Cook, about 50 miles away.  The SD, in order to save money, arranged for a neighboring SD bus to pick up the boy, with the result that his outbound trip was regularly two hours or more.  The return trip was about 1 ½ hours.  Judge Zagel upheld IHO Hervey's decision that the record lacked sufficient evidence of a direct impact from the extra travel time on educational progress.  There was also an attorney fee claim on some other issues that Hervey did rule favorably, such as requiring an aide on the bus (the SD refused to provide, in the IEP, for an aide on the bus); however, Zagel found the relief obtained to be deminimus

Jujuan R v. CPS, html, ISBE 07-0023
Susan Cox decision against CPS.   The case involves a horrible history of misdiagnosis, failure of evaluation, violation of procedural safeguards. and failure to disclose an evaluation that had been performed that showed the student had been misdiagnosed and mislabeled.    As relief, placement at Oconomow, two years of compensatory, and full impelmentation of all the recommendaitons of the private evaluators.


 top of page