Capo Settles Special Education Suit for $130,000

A high schooler diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and his parent sued the Capistrano Unified School District over disagreements about when he should return to campus.

The is paying out $130,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a student who was forced to attend school despite a debilitating condition.

The 17-year-old suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome to the point that it affects his strength and alertness. He had been provided at-home instruction before the district "unilaterally" decided he should return to campus, according to court documents.

The district's Board of Trustees voted 6-0 last week to settle the lawsuit. The money is to go into an educational trust for the student to use through May 31, 2016.

The Lawsuit

The suit was filed by the student’s lawyer in federal court in July, after the Sheriff's Department declared him truant and threatened his parent with prosecution.

It was brought under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires school districts to provide a free and appropriate education for all students, regardless of their health and abilities, as well as other state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The student has been eligible for special education services since 2007.

Since then, he has received varying levels of home instruction from the district. Disagreements over whether he should transition back to school began in 2008, the start of numerous meetings with input provided by the family's doctors as well as an Orange County Health Care Agency psychiatrist who diagnosed the student chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome.

Disagreements Over Education

In September 2010, the student agreed to attend partial days, three days at week at a local high school with supplemental home instruction for three hours a week.

"However, a chance of circumstances occurred whereby the minor was and has been unable to sustain regular attendance on campus due to his fragile constitution and the additional challenges he's had with flu and sinus infections," the lawsuit states.

A consulting doctor recommended he begin attending class five days a week, so long as a cot was provided in the nurse's office and that he be allowed to go to class in his pajamas and be escorted by campus security to the nurse's office.

A month later, the district informed the student's parent that it was "now unilaterally changing the minor's placement to five days per week and the minor's home instruction services would cease as of Feb. 4, 2011."

“The minor claims the defendants acted with deliberate indifference when they, against his treating physician’s advice, unilaterally decided to cease home instruction and demand he attend a public school campus five days per week,” the lawsuit states.

Talex October 19, 2011 at 01:10 AM
I am the parent of a child with CFS/ME. After the school essentially failing in any respect to help come up with a reasonable plan to try to meet the needs of my son, I pulled him and homeschooled him through a virtual academy/charter school. This is our third year. He has undergone unimaginable numbers of medical tests and procedures to rule out any and all conditions that could cause him to be completely debilitated. The whole thing kicked off three and a half years ago with what we now know was a double mononucleosis infection. He started throwing up and didn't stop for almost 6 months. For anyone that doubts that this is a real disorder, please let me educate you. We have had doctors tell us our son is mental and making it up, that there's no such thing as CFS. We've had teachers, despite ample records and specialists' specific instructions not to do physical exertion, force our son to run a mile (he was flat on his back and out of school for two weeks throwing up). I am in process of reintegrating him into school under 504/IEP. Daunting. I have experienced so much ignorance, flat out hostility and denial from people when they ask why my son is white as a vampire with dark circles under his eyes and are told the reason. Like any parent, I will do what I must to ensure my child has every reasonable opportunity to receive an education and interact as normally as possible with kids his age. This is the federally protected right of any US Citizen between 5-18.
Francesca Owens October 19, 2011 at 06:18 AM
Talex, I am so sorry to hear a child must suffer with this illness. I want you to know, I pay 100% out of pocket with no reimbursement and fly down to Florida to see Dr. Nancy Klimas. IT WAS WORTH VERY $ I couldn't afford to pay to go down there. I rented a car, hotel, and medical fee! The natural killer cell tests I got the results on yesterday were horrible and we are starting on immunivir and Oxymatrine, I am already on Valtres and naltrexone. I tell you this only because I want you yo consider going to a real expert. I have been improving but it is not an easy road. Good luck to you and your child... and think about going to a leading expert should you not already have one. Ciao Bella, Francesca http://www.youtube.com/user/kaiserMECFS?feature=mhee#p/a/u/1/nsz7zudrl7k
Wrblr Fvtwlv October 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM
If you didn't get my board message, see http://www.hhs.gov/advcomcfs/notices/n101811.html and read or watch the video for this May's CFS Advisory Commitee meeting, Day 2, http://www.hhs.gov/advcomcfs/meetings/index.html.
Lori Ellis Jones October 22, 2011 at 05:09 PM
I've been following the latest new concerning the new cancer drug which holds great promise for treating and in some cases even curing CFS/ME discovered my norwegian scientists, Rituximab. http://www.research1st.com/2011/10/19/rituximab-trial/. Up until now the name bothered me but for the most part I just considered thought of it as "A duck is a duck no matter what you call it" sort of thing. Although I did always wonder WHY? Why the big deal on the part of the Govt agencies as far as changing the name. Then it hit me, in places such as Norway and the UK and elsewhere they take ME much more seriously. THEY recognize how severe it can get including fatal. (It is listed on death certificate(s) ). They have also found pretty clear evidence that it is indeed an autoimmune neur-endoctrine disease. They have found-Ugh Foggy foggy day, it's in the link I believe- markers in the blood and in autopsies that there is clear damage done by the disease to parts of the spinal cord (again read the article to be precise). And you can google Sophia Mirz for more info. The thing is the tests they can do to help get a more precises diagnosis are very technical, (not your run of the mill, can be done anywhere tests) and they are quite expensive. Put 2 and 2 together...with a pandemic of CFS(ME) suffers here, if they changed the name to formally agree that it is indeed ME, the costs to them would be phenomenal
Lori Ellis Jones October 22, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Marly-I've asked all over and not got a reply. Would it be of any benefit if we wrote letters to arrive at the time of the meeting, telling our own individual stories? (We would need an address if so) Maybe if they got bombarded with hundreds of thousands of letters along with the verbal testimonies it might get the point across? Just a thought. If you think it would help you can either let me know here or email me at BlondieLJ@yahoo.com . I'd be more than happy to help get the word out.


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