MOUNDSVILLE – The Marshall County Board of Education has filed a federal suit against the parents of a child with disabilities, saying the board should not be required to pay for the child's private education.

The Marshall County Board of Education says it is required to reimburse the parents of a disabled boy for the education he received at the private school Augusta Levy Learning Center from January 2008 until the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

The requirement came on the heels of a decision reached by an administrative hearing officer on April 24 after the parents of the child, identified only as Mark A. and Fran A., filed a due process complaint against the board on Nov. 13.

In the complaint, Mark A. and Fran A. said the Marshall County school district failed to offer their child, identified only as J.A., a free appropriate public education.

But the Marshall County Board of Education contends the student's Individualized Educational Program met his unique educational needs.

"There is no credible evidence in the record that the Student's Individualized Educational Program would fail to afford meaningful educational benefit," the complaint filed Ma 29 says.

The administrative hearing officer who reached the decision against the board incorrectly determined the district failed to offer the student a free appropriate public education and failed to provide appropriate weight to the expert testimony and opinion of professional educators, according to the complaint.

"The administrative hearing officer improperly ordered the District to reimburse the Parents for a unilateral placement at a private school when the Student has never been enrolled in or attended a public school in the Marshall County School System or any other public school system," the suit states.

In fact, the boy has been attending Augusta Levy Learning Center since he was 2 years old, the Marshall County Board of Education claims.

The board is asking the court review the record of administrative proceedings, enter an order reversing the administrative hearing officer's decision and ordering that the student's placement be implemented in accordance with the board's proposed program and grant other relief it deems just.

Kimberly S. Croyle and Gregory W. Bailey of Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graff and Love in Morgantown will be representing it.

U.S. District Court case number: 5:09-CV-58

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