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Woodland Hills Settles Lawsuit with Autistic Child’s Family

The Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh, PA) School District has agreed to pay $25,000 per year, plus a 3% annual inflationary increase, to the family of an elementary school aged student diagnosed with autism and mental retardation. The agreement will enable the family to seek private education for their child.

April%20Autism2.jpgThe suit, on behalf of an unnamed family, alleged that the district’s plan to place the then-six-year-old child diagnosed with autism and mental retardation, in Wilkins Primary School was inconsistent with the educational requirements laid out in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act and other laws. It argued that the Pace School, a private school for emotionally disturbed and developmentally disabled children in Churchill, PA was significantly better equipped to meet the child’s needs. The family’s attorney stated that the family “felt very strongly … that the private placement was what was best for their child” therefore the district’s plan would not meet their child’s needs.

The federal civil lawsuit was filed in U.S. District court last May and resolved in mediation this February. The payments, required for 15 years, will allow the family to send their child to the Pace School, despite the fact that it only partially covers the tuition expenses the family will incur.