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District 303 sued over treatment of autistic student

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Parents of an 18-year-old autistic high school student are suing St. Charles School District 303 on allegations that teachers failed to follow his individualized education program and created a hostile environment in which he was “humiliated, harassed, retaliated and discriminated against and mentally abused,” according to court documents filed this week.

Sandra and Bogdan Stanek are appealing to the 16th Judicial Circuit Court after a hearing officer with the Illinois State Board of Education dismissed their request for a due process hearing under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to the complaint.

The Staneks allege District 303 violated their son’s rights to a free, appropriate public education.

District spokesman Jim Blaney said the district doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

In their complaint, the Staneks claim their son, a student at St. Charles North High School, was denied special accommodations in his Advanced Placement psychology class and honors Spanish class.

The teachers reportedly insisted their classes were too advanced for a special education student and insisted he move to regular, nonhonors classes. When he refused, the teachers retaliated by not following his IEP and refusing to accommodate his needs as a special education student, according to the complaint.

The teen also faced retaliation in other classes after his parents asked that he have extra time to turn in graded assignments, according to the complaint. A math teacher wouldn’t show him graded papers, tests or quizzes, and an English teacher entered wrong grades in addition to lowering grades, according to the allegations.

“These kinds of retaliating actions caused extreme anxiety and emotional stress to the student,” according to the complaint.

Sandra Stanek said in an email that her family learned they were not alone after talking with other District 303 parents who have children with the disability – that they, too, had similar experiences but were afraid to speak out for fear of district retaliation.

“We are hoping to send the [message] that retaliation and discrimination against the children with [the] disability won’t be tolerated by our community since this kind of behavior oversteps the bounds of civil society,” she said in the email.

In their complaint, the Staneks ask for compensatory educational services to include a mentor or tutor for 10 hours a week for 44 weeks a year over the next two years.

As compensation for their son’s humiliation, emotional stress, loss of self-esteem and trust in adults, they also seek $300,000 for him and each parent, according to the complaint.

The case is due before Judge Edward Schreiber on June 20.

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