In December of 2012, the FIU Family and Education Law Clinic filed three State Complaints with the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) against the Miami-Dade County School District.
The complaints, lead by Visiting Assistant Professor Laverne Pinkney, were filed on behalf of three siblings alleging violations of State and Federal Law pertaining to children with disabilities or suspected of having a disability.
Fourth year law student Doreen Rubio, former Staff Attorney Ilana Bonan, and law school Graduate Assistant Sandra Eschaverry assisted Pinkney with the complaints.
In a decisive victory for the clinic, the FDOE, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services recently issued a Finding of Noncompliance against the School District on March 1, 2013.
The finding indicated that there was evidence that the School District violated the requirements related to conducting an evaluation of the students and other related issues.
“Evaluation is an essential beginning step in the process that helps parents and schools determine whether a child has a disability,” said Pinkney, director of the clinic. ”Under the law, a child with a disability is one who qualifies for special education and related service. The information gathered through evaluation determines whether a child has a disability and determines educational needs. There are specific guidelines and laws that determine what must be done by the School District when a parent requests an evaluation of their child. If the guidelines are not followed, the child’s academic performance and behavior will likely deteriorate. If the guidelines are followed, a timely decision is made as to whether the child has a disability and whether related services are necessary.”
She believes the decision and corrective actions issued against the District should prevent a repeat of the ongoing identified violations.
“This decision is important to the clients represented by the clinic and all children and parents in the District who have been denied evaluations without the proper procedures being utilized,” Pinkney clarified. “A new set of guidelines must be followed not only by the schools involved in the complaints but all schools in the entire District.”