Parents Concerns Regarding Siblings Immune Deficiency did Not Require School to Provide Homebound Placement

In Stamps ex. rel. H.S.,S.S, and J.S v Gwinnett County Sch Dist., 112 LRP 28567 (11th Cir. 06/04/12 unpublished), the parents of three siblings with genetic conditions, neurological disorders, and an unspecified immune deficiency were unsuccessful in requiring the school district to provide a homebound program (in-home IDEA services) as opposed to a school-based placement.

The parents of the three siblings had concerns that the children were at a significant risk of infection if they attended an in-school program. Thus, they requested that the children’s IDEA services be provided in their home. The school district disagreed and the issue was heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing the ALJ heard testimony from the family’s pediatrician as well as an expert in pediatric infectious diseases.

The family’s pediatrician testified that the children’s immune deficiencies did not require preventive treatment, they would improve with age and, in fact, the children had not been sick in several years. The expert in pediatric infectious diseases (who reviewed the children’s medical records and spoke with their pediatrician) testified that the children would  have the same probability of getting sick as other children and they did not require any restrictions in their socialization activities, whether going to school or other community functions. The ALJ ruled for the school district and the decision was later affirmed in an unpublished opinion by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

As is generally the case, this decision is based on the specific facts. Here, there was expert testimony that these three children did not have a greater risk of infection than other children and their medical condition did not require social restrictions. Moreover, the school district has an affirmative obligation to place children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment-meaning to the maximum extent appropriate students with disabilities should attend classes along side students without disabilities. The parents in this case had the best of intentions, but were seeking a very restrictive placement for their children. Thus, the court determined that the evidence presented at the due process hearing did not establish that the children needed homebound services in order to receive a free appropriate public education. If the medical evidence had established that attending school and other community activities exposed the children to a greater risk of infection, the school district may have been required to provide services in the home.

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