Pickaway County ESC
OHIO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO

EASTERN DIVISION

JOHN DOE, et al., :

:

Plaintiffs, : Case No. 2:91-cv-464

:

v. : JUDGE HOLSCHUH

:

STATE OF OHIO, et al., : MAGISTRATE JUDGE KEMP

:

Defendants. :

NOTICE TO OHIO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES AND THEIR PARENTS

OR GUARDIANS OF PARTIAL SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

1. This notice may apply to you if you are the parent or guardian of a student with

disabilities age three through twenty-one or a student with disabilities. The student

must be enrolled or seeking enrollment in Ohio's public school system and require

special education, related services, or accommodations as a result of a disability.

2. The purpose of this notice is to tell you about a proposed partial settlement in a

lawsuit that may affect you and the student. The lawsuit was brought by people like

you who want children with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate public

education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Lawsuit

3. This lawsuit has two parts. The first is a challenge to the way Ohio funds special

education and related services. The second is a challenge to theOhio Department of

Education’s (ODE) procedures for implementing the IDEA.

4. The challenges to ODE’s implementation of the IDEAraise four matters. The first is

the way ODE monitors local school districts’ and other agencies’ compliance with

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the IDEA. The second is the wayODE handles school districts’ requests for waivers

of state standards controlling the delivery of special education services. The third is

the way ODE operates its system for handling complaints about special education

matters. The fourth is the way ODE corrects school districts’ failure to complywith

the IDEA.

5. The people who brought the lawsuit (named plaintiffs) were John Doe, by and

through his parent, L.B.; T.M., by and through his parent, S.J.; L.J., by and through

his parent, J.J.; T.D., by and through his parent, A.D.; L.A., by and through his

parent, E.A.;B.M., by and through his parent, D.M; S.W., by and through his parent,

C.S.; and M.G., by and through his parent, J.G. Their attorneys are Susan G. Tobin

and Jason C. Boylan of the Ohio Legal Rights Service, an independent state

advocacy agency. The Judge in this case has decided that these eight people and

their attorneys will fairly represent all studentswho require special education, related

services, or accommodations as a result of their disability, making this case a "class

action."

6. The plaintiffs sued the State of Ohio, state agencies and commissions, and state

officials responsible for ensuring the delivery of special education and related

services. The defendants are the State of Ohio; Governor Ted Strickland; the Ohio

School Facilities Commission; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Deborah

Delisle; the State Board ofEducation;ODE; the Office of ExceptionalChildren; and

the Office of Early Learning and School Readiness.

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The Settlement

7. After more than a year of negotiating, the parties have agreed to a partial settlement

of this case without a trial. That settlement resolves the claims about the way that

ODE implements the IDEA. It does not settle the challenges to the way Ohio funds

the education of students with disabilities.

8. The plaintiffs and defendants have written the agreement in a document called a

"Consent Order." The Judge has given preliminary approval of the Consent Order.

Before the Judge decides to give final approval of the Consent Order, you can tell the

Judge if you disagree with any part of it. To get a copy of the Consent Order you

may write to the Ohio Legal Rights Service, 50 West Broad Street, Suite 1400,

Columbus, Ohio 43215-5923, call 1-800-282-9181, or view it online at

www.olrs.ohio.gov.

9. The Consent Order requires ODE to take a number of steps to identify and correct

violations of federal and state special education statutes to ensure that classmembers

receive a free and appropriate public education. The Consent Order's provisions

include:

a. Monitoring: ODE will be required to provide public involvement and access

to information regarding its IDEA monitoring systems by requiring public

posting of local school districts' performance and holding open meetings

where individuals may present their concerns.

b. Waivers: Waivers are requested by local school districts when the district

claims that it can not meet special education service delivery ratios (such as

class size, range of students' ages in the same classroom, service provider to

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student ratios), which are required by law. The Consent Order requires

protections for studentswith disabilities and additional ODE oversight when

a waiver is requested. Parents whose children with disabilities may be

affected by waivers will now be given notice of requests for such waivers

before the request for the waiver is decided. Waivers cannot result in the

denial of a free and appropriate public education to affected students with

disabilities.

c. Complaints: This Consent Order provides a number of new measures to

protect students with disabilities when a parent/guardian files a state-level

complaint with ODE. As a result of the Consent Order, ODE will provide

additional notice to parents/guardians of the complaint process and advocacy

resources to assist parents/guardians. ODE will be required to conduct a

more thorough investigation of complaints challenging the delivery of a

child's free and appropriate public education, a local school district's failure

to implement due process hearings or state level review decisions, and the

inappropriate use of restraint or seclusion. ODE will ensure that violations of

the law will be corrected in a timely manner. The Consent Order does not

change the procedures controlling due process hearings before impartial

hearing officers.

d. Complaint Timelines: If only the school district requests an extension of

time for a decision by ODE and the parent or guardian does not agree to the

extension, ODE may only grant the district's request in extraordinary

circumstances. When both the parent/guardian and the school district agree

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to enter into mediation, the mediation will not delay the outcome of state

complaints and an extension of time will be granted only when agreed to by

both parties.

e. Corrective Action: When a local school district fails to meet state or federal

standards, ODE will require that the district correct those deficiencieswithin

a year. The district may be subject to penalties if it fails to correct the

deficiencies.

Effect of the Consent Order

10. The Consent Order is a partial settlement between the plaintiffs and defendants

because it does not resolve plaintiffs' claims about the wayOhio funds the education

of students with disabilities. If this Consent Order is finally approved by the Judge,

plaintiffs' claims about thewayOhio funds the education of studentswith disabilities

remain unaffected.

11. If ODE does not carry out the terms of the Consent Order, the plaintiffs can enforce

those terms for two years after the Judge orders final approval. However, if this

Consent Order is finally approved by the Judge, the claims of this case that are

summarized in paragraph 9 of this notice may not be relitigated.

12. The plaintiffs and defendants agreed in the Consent Order that plaintiffs are entitled

to reasonable attorneys' fees and costs. The amount of those fees and expenses will

be determined later.

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Next Steps

13. If you agree with the Consent Order you do not have to do anything, but you may

submit comments to the Judge in the same manner as described in paragraph 14 of

this notice.

14. If you disagree with any part of the Consent Order and you want to tell the Judge,

you must submit written objections NO LATER THAN SEPTEMBER 16, 2009.

a. On the first page of your objections, write in large or underlined letters:

"OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSAL IN DOE V. STATE, Case No. 2:91-CV-

464."

b. A parent or guardian may object on behalf of a child class member, but must

state in the objection the relationship he or she has with the affected child

class member.

c. Youmust sign your name, and include your address, your phone number, and

the date the objections are mailed. You may or may not be contacted by

plaintiffs' or defendants' attorneys to discuss your concerns.

d. Objections must be mailed to the following address:

Clerks of Court

United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse

85 Marconi Boulevard

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Attn: Judge Holschuh's Docket

e. DO NOT CALL THE COURT. THE COURT WILL NOT ACCEPT

PHONE CALLS ABOUT THISMATTER. ALL OBJECTIONSMUST BE

SUBMITTED IN WRITING.

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15. A hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on October 20, 2009, before theHonorable John

D. Holschuh, in Courtroom 3 of the United States District Court for the Southern

District ofOhio, 85Marconi Boulevard, Columbus, Ohio 43215. At the hearing, the

judge will consider whether the proposed partial settlement is fair, reasonable, and

adequate and whether it should receive the court's final approval. The hearing is

open to the public. Persons who have submitted timely objections may be given the

opportunity to speak at the hearing if they so desire. If you desire to speak at the

hearing, please note this on your objection.

16. Following the hearing, the Judge will decide whether to approve the Consent Order

and allow this part of the lawsuit to end. If the Judge decides to approve the

proposed Consent Order, his decision is final and the Consent Order becomes

effective and lasts for 2 years.

17. If you have any questions about this case you can call Ohio Legal Rights Service,

IntakeWorker, 50 West Broad Street, Suite 1400, Columbus, Ohio 43215-5923, at 1-

800-282-9181 or (614) 466-7264. Please mention that you are calling about the case

Doe v. State of Ohio, Case No. 2:91-cv-464.

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