Bryan Cave Assists First Grade Student through Pro Bono Special Education Case
April 26, 2012
San Francisco Attorney Goli Mahdavi favorably resolved a pro bono
matter on behalf of a first grade student who was born with severe cognitive disabilities, a seizure disorder and degenerative hearing loss. The student is in a special education classroom at a local Bay Area public elementary school. In late 2011, the student’s parents sought the advice of Bay Area Legal Aid regarding the inadequacy of their child’s education and onsite medical care. Mahdavi took on the case pro bono
, with support from Lee Marshall and Debbie Goldfarb, also in Bryan Cave’s San Francisco office.
The student suffers from a seizure disorder that requires medication immediately at the onset of a seizure to lessen the adverse health consequences of the seizure. The school system, however, would not authorize staff to administer the medication during the 3 days a week that the school nurse was off duty. Student is also deaf but neither the teacher nor the aids in his classroom knew sign language, leaving the student unable to receive instruction or communicate with his teacher and peers. The school system remained adamant that the boy’s placement and services were adequate and refused to provide additional services to address his needs.
Through the team’s efforts, and the diligence of the student’s parents, Bryan Cave secured the following educational and medical services for the student:
• 5 hours per day of direct support from a classroom aid fluent in sign language.
• 60 minutes per week of classroom consultation from a school district audiologist.
• 60 minutes per month for team meetings with the student’s teachers and paraprofessionals to discuss IEP (Individualized Education Program) goals and progress.
• Acoustic measurements were taken of the student’s classroom and modifications were made where necessary.
• Implementation of an FM System - device whereby the instructor’s voice is amplified directly into the student’s hearing aid.
• The previous itinerant teacher of the deaf was replaced, at Bryan Cave’s request, with a teacher qualified in “total communication” to support the student’s special education teacher.
• The new itinerant teacher of the deaf conducted an observation of the classroom and her recommendations were incorporated into the IEP.
• An emergency seizure care plan was implemented, which includes the training of three staff members in the administration of seizure medication to abort or lessen the negative health consequences of the student’s seizures.
The practical impact of the result the Bryan Cave team negotiated was that the student will now receive the medical attention that he needs, as well as the specialized services that will allow him to hear and understand what is happening in the classroom.