Parents of dyslexic 3rd grader sue local school district

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COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) A Copperas Cove 3rd grader, with the help of his parents, is suing the Copperas Cove Independent School District after his parents say he was denied special education to help him deal with dyslexia.

The issue was taken up Tuesday afternoon during a telephone status conference with U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman and lawyers for both sides as the issue makes its way to court for trial, attorney for the boy Elizabeth Angelone, of the Cuddy Law Firm, in Austin, said.

The issue pending in federal court seeks Pitman’s order to CCISD that the child be re-evaluated and monitored after a Texas Education Agency hearing officer concluded the he was not eligible for special education services in spite of the fact he had tested, more than once, as having dyslexia.

“The court must vacate and reverse the decision,” she writes.

Dyslexia is a condition that studies say effects one-in-five Americans and is “of constitutional origin manifested by a difficulty in learning to read, write or spell, despite conventional instruction, adequate intelligence and sociocultural opportunity,” the plaintiff’s amended original complaint says.

The original complaint was filed July 28, 2017 and it was amended August 15, 2017, federal court records show.

On June 30, 2017, the TEA hearing officer denied the child “all relief” based upon her evaluation, which Angelone says was “erroneous as a matter of law and contains numerous errors on material facts.”

When the child came to Copperas Cove as a 1st grader, he already had been identified as a student with speech and language disability at another school district.

Then in October of the child’s 2nd grade year, CCISD was notified by specialists at Darnall Army Medical Center that he had been the victim of bullying and asked the district to provide services to him.

After an evaluation in late February 2017 the district determined the child “was no longer eligible for speech and language services, and despite his dyslexia, and reading and spelling problems, he did not qualify for special education under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Even after the student’s parents requested an independent evaluation in their son’s case, as state law requires, the district neither provided the evaluation nor did it request a due process hearing to explain the denial.

The district refused the parents’ request a second time, as well, the court document says.

After the second denial the parents sought, and paid for, an independent evaluation by a certified academic language specialist who reported the boy “could not read and recommended he receive 60-minutes, 4- to 5-times-daily of intensive instruction by a certified academic language therapist or dyslexia therapist.”

Attorneys for the school district filed an answer to the amended complaint on September 9, 2017, in which they denied the allegations outlined in the complaint.

A trial date in the case has not yet been set.