Parents Of Autistic Boy Sue Bentonville School District

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Two parents are suing the Bentonville School District, claiming their son’s rights were violated when the student was forced into an autism classroom without parental consent.

The parents filed the lawsuit June 17 in federal court. The suit states the school district’s policy automatically placing autistic students in an autism classroom violates the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004.

The lawsuit states children placed in the autism classrooms “are denied access to academic instruction provided to their same-aged non-disabled peer.” They are also denied participation in statewide and district-wide standardized testing, the suit states.

Little Rock attorney Theresa Caldwell is representing the plaintiffs in the case. She is also representing a separate parent who filed a lawsuit against the Bentonville School District in April. That parent, identified as “Brittany O.,” claims school officials allowed her child to be transferred during the school day to a day treatment center, where he was abused, assaulted and physically restrained, that federal lawsuit states.

Summons in both federal cases were issued to state and local school officials Tuesday, according to court records.

The autistic child is referred to as “Child Doe” and “Doe” in the lawsuit. He was born about three months premature and diagnosed with autism at four years old because of expressive and receptive deficits and pragmatic delays impacting his communication and social skills.

The child was in fourth grade last school year and began schooling in Bentonville as a kindergartner.

The lawsuit states local and state education administrators were obligated to provide special treatment services for the boy, although no services were given. The parents later hired help from California to set up a special program for the child at home, the suit states.

The child showed advancements after the treatment, including increased verbal and social abilities, but was not allowed out of the autism classroom at school, according to the lawsuit.

The parents responded by asking the boy’s teachers for lesson plans two weeks in advance “so that they could incorporate the material and ‘pre-teach’ Doe using their (program) methods at home,” the lawsuit states. The school district denied the request.

The parents also complained that administrators told them the child would be included in a regular classroom as he got older. That promise was never fulfilled, the parents said.

The lawsuit also claims the school district tried to stop the boy from taking part in state standardized tests because of his disability. The district has acknowledged he does not meet criteria exempting students from taking such exams, according to the suit.

A hearing officer for the Arkansas Department of Education’s Special Education Unit found in favor of the school district in a complaint resolved on March 13. The hearing officer states regular standardized testing would not be appropriate for the child and that the school offered reasonable help to the child and parents concerning the boy’s autism.

The parents’ lawsuit seeks to overturn the hearing officer’s findings, the suit states.

Click here to read more on the other lawsuit against the Bentonville School District, filed in March.


  • Ron Snider

    This is insane. These kids are getting a fine free education by the tax payers, now sue the very hand that is paying for it. The school district is not out to “violate these kids civil rights”, the kids were put into the class room for more help, which was better for them. This is simply parents trying to get rich off the backs of the tax payers. The case needs thrown out and the parents need to pay for private school for their troubled kids. Rogers schools has done nothing but help these kids.

    • Ted

      Lol, did you even read the article? The parents aren’t even asking for money, they are asking that a decision be overturned and the kid put in a regular classroom. They are only asking their “troubled” kid be treated normally.

    • Amy S.

      Apparently you have never been the parent of a special needs child. It is not that simple, they may not be out to violate rights, but they do. There are times when these placements end up having severe negative effects in a child who needs more to begin with. The more people who take a stand, the less it will occur. Period. Money is not always the motivator, some people actually want to enact policy change and lasting positive impacts.

  • Sherry Southward

    No but anytime the is a law suit there is money involved somewhere.!!! I wish they had classes like this years ago. Maybe more kids would have gotten an education and into a work program for them. I am with Ron on this !!! The kids were in the right class for them. A child that has a delayed learning disability deserves to have a class that he or she can be taught in. Autism, Asperger, are children that need different teaching skills. I know this because our son has Asperger. He had to be taught a total different way. And because he got that he was able to graduate 12th grade and receive a diploma !!

    • Ted

      They did have classes like this years ago and they were called “special ed.” or “resource room”. Maybe you’d think about it differently if your child was not afforded a public school education and instead forced into a special needs school like the NWA Sunshine School.

      If the affected child in this case can’t complete 4th/5th grade work in a regular classroom it should be obvious to the parents, teachers, and administrators very quickly and they could be moved back to a more suitable learning environment. Or the child can repeat grades until they’re 20 while Bentonville takes imperceptible hits to their test scores.

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