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 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.