Florida Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Judge dismisses bid by mother of disabled student to require Miami-Dade schools to hire paraprofessional

State Court

By Marian Johns | Jul 25, 2019


MIAMI — A lawsuit filed by the mother of a disabled middle school student alleging the School Board of Miami-Dade County refuses to assign her son a paraprofessional has been dismissed by a federal judge who ruled she did not follow the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) "mandatory administrative process."

According to the July 19 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida filing, defendant School Board of Miami-Dade County asked the court for a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by plaintiff Yelina Morgas individually and on behalf of her son J.M.

Morgas filed suit in April alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act and asked that the School Board of Miami-Dade County be mandated to assign her wheelchair-bound son, who suffers from a degenerative muscular condition, an individual paraprofessional. Morgas argues J.M. requires someone to push his wheelchair, help with his backpack, pick up his lunch, assist with using the bathroom and operate the elevator in the three-story school building for him to get to his classes.  

The School Board of Miami-Dade had determined that a full-time paraprofessional would be "allocated" to the son's school but not in "a one-to-one capacity." Morgas alleges her son requires a one-to-one paraprofessional in order to receive his reasonable accommodations, and that one month went by without a paraprofessional being assigned to the school.

The school board argues that Morgas' failed to use "the administrative process" because her claims deal with the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and that she is not disabled and therefore "lacks individual standing" to seek relief under the ADA.

U.S. District Judge Robert Scola Jr. agreed with the school board that Morgas did not "invoke or exhaust" the administrative process of the IDEA. The court granted the board's dismissal without prejudice.

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