Natick First Circuit Success
FIRST CIRCUIT RULES IN FAVOR OF NATICK PUBLIC SCHOOLS’ ACCESS PROGRAM
On May 22, 2019, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld the determination of the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”) and the District Court that the Natick Public Schools’ (“District” or “Natick”) ACCESS program, a substantially separate program, for students with cognitive and communication deficits, was the least restrictive program that could provide a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”) to the student, C.D. The ACCESS program offers a significantly modified curriculum, two to three grades below grade level. Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, a firm that represents over one hundred school districts across Massachusetts, represented Natick in the litigation.
The Parents argued that pursuant to the 2017 Supreme Court decision, Endrew F. ex rel. Joseph F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. RE-1, in determining whether a student was offered FAPE, the BSEA or a court must separately consider whether the IEP is “ambitious,” or contains “challenging goals” from whether the IEP was individually designed and reasonably calculated to offer a meaningful educational benefit. The First Circuit disagreed, stating that “Endrew F. used terms like ‘demanding,’ ‘challenging,’ and ‘ambitious’ to define ‘progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances,’ not to announce a separate dimension of the FAPE requirement.” Given the student’s diagnosed intellectual disability and serious language deficits, she could be expected to make meaningful progress in the ACCESS program, not in the general education classroom that the Parents desired.
The Parents also argued that the IEPs violated the requirement to place C.D. in the least restrictive environment and asked the First Circuit to adopt a multi-step test that the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits have adopted. The First Circuit, joined the Seventh Circuit, and refused as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act provided an adequate framework. The First Circuit explained that the test from the other circuits took away the respect and deference owed to school officials and the BSEA.
Finally, the Parents argued that Natick erred in not conducting a formal transition assessment when the student turned fourteen. The First Circuit disagreed, explaining “there is no restriction on the means of gathering information about a student’s interests or abilities that may be relevant to the development of postsecondary transition goals.” The transition planning was based on extensive educational and psychological evaluations. Additionally, the IEP outlined educational goals and services that would have helped the student make progress towards her goal of graduating and provided for vocational services.
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLP Receives Favorable Decision for Town of Dracut
On April 11, 2023, MHTL Attorneys Peter Mello and Madison Harris-Parks represented the Town of Dracut, and successfully obtained a preliminary injunction order requiring, among other things, that the Defendant homeowners cease renting out their pool to the public. The case, Town of Dracut by and Through Its Building Inspector vs. Nason, Gilbert et al., was initiated by the Town after the Defendants failed to comply with the Town’s associated underlying zoning enforcement order. The Town requested the injunction Read More
EXTENSION OF MUNICIPAL RELIEF MEASURES - INCLUDING OPEN MEETING LAW REMOTE OPTION - SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR
The option for public bodies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to hold public meetings remotely or in a hybrid fashion, which came into play at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended by the General Court for another two years, until March 31, 2025. The Governor signed the legislation, which will be codified at Chapter 2 of the Acts of 2023, on March 29, 2023. Because of the inclusion of an emergency preamble, the law goes into effect immediately.
50 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 410,
Braintree, MA 02184
75-101 Federal Street
Boston, MA 02110
Tel: (617) 479-5000
Tel: (888) 841-4850
Fax: (617) 479-6469
Crown Colony Plaza
300 Crown Colony Drive, Suite 410
P.O. Box 9126
Quincy, MA 02169-9126