Military family wins battle against local school district

Photo by Tianna Jenkins
Photo by Tianna Jenkins(KWTX)
Published: Aug. 3, 2017 at 12:03 AM CDT
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A military mother, who took her battle with the Killeen independent school district to the state, finally had her prayers answered.

On July 15 special education hearing officer Sherry Wetsch ruled in the family's favor saying KISD would have to reimburse tuition, transportation cost, and the cost of additional support services.

Natalie McGrew and her family moved to Fort Hood from Massachusetts in 2015 . Her son, Luke, was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism when he was 3 years old.

An individualized educational plan or IEP had been set up for him at his previous school to assist him in the classroom.

She says she was shocked when Killeen ISD denied her son similar services that his old school provided.

"It was confusing and it was heartbreaking because i knew what my son needed. I knew what we had before and how it works,” McGrew said.

"If you come to a new state with an IEP by law they have to follow that IEP. They can't take that away.”

She and her husband constantly tried to make things work for their son in the district, but they felt like things were getting worse.

They tried transferring him to another school, but he was still regressing.

In order to get their son the services he needed they put him in Central Texas Christian School.

CTCS is a private school that never before had an autistic student of Luke's age, but it was open and understanding and made accommodations, McGrew said.

Because she felt the district failed to provide her son with an appropriate education under federal law, she filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency in September.

The hearing was held in April and both sides were able to plead their cases.

Wetsch found the district at fault, saying it denied Luke a free and appropriate education.

She also wrote that they didn’t provide him behavior services that he needed.

Special education attorney at Cuddy Law Firm, Sonja Kerr, hopes that this case will be the last for Killeen ISD

"There's a gap here. There's a problem here of behavioral services for children with autism that someone at the higher level will take a look at and say maybe we can meet the needs of these children,” Kerr said.

We reached out to district to see how they will proceed.

The KISD issued a statement to KWTX saying:

“The district is working with legal counsel to determine the next appropriate steps. We have several questions regarding the decision and how special education support services will be provided to the student by an institution that does not provide these services as revealed through due process testimony. We will be seeking further clarification and answers while exercising available options.”

McGrew hopes that her situation can help another family who might be going through the same thing.

She plans to team up with her attorney to hold a town hall meeting next month to talk about their experience with other families.