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Wednesday  •  July 22, 2020

HCPSS Redistricting Special Needs Exemption Appeal Trial – PART 3 – Who Permitted the BOE Counsel to Access & Disclose Confidential Special Needs Plan Details?

By Steven Keller

Included below is Part 3 in a series of testimony given at one of the 2019 HCPSS school redistricting appeal trials held last week on July 15, 2020. This trial involves three appellants challenging the 2019 HCPSS school redistricting based on how IEP & 504 exemptions were handled for students after the redistricting vote was finalized.


In these audio clips, the defense cross examines one of the appellants (an HCPSS parent) and reveals more shocking breaches of privacy into the details of a student’s special needs (504) plan.


The identities of the appellants on this appeal and their children have been censored in these audio clips due to the privacy rights of the children involved.


In the first clip, the defense reveals that it had been granted access to the details of the appellant’s son’s 504 plan by proceeding to read these details in open court. The appellant never authorized the BOE’s legal counsel the right to access of this information, so this information never should have been available to them (in addition to being completely irrelevant to the material argument of the case):


In the next clip, the defense reveals more details of the appellant’s son’s 504 plan, demonstrating further how they obtained wrongful access to these details from someone within HCPSS:

In the final clip, the defense questions the appellant about whether she had sought an IEP plan for her daughter (which was not public knowledge available to the defense attorneys), even though it is completely out of scope and irrelevant, considering that the lawsuit is focused solely on the appellant’s son and the denial of an exemption for his 504 plan:


In order for the defense to have the details of the appellant’s son’s 504 plan or to know that the family had requested an IEP meeting for their daughter, employees of HCPSS had to either pass that information to the BOE to pass to their counsel, or those HCPSS employees directly shared the information with the BOE’s defense team. The BOE’s lawyers had no legal right to see this information — all of it is confidential and requires parent/guardian permission to be shared. This was one of the most egregious breaches uncovered in this trial.


What’s particularly disappointing is why this confidential student information was shared without permission with the BOE’s legal counsel: merely so that they could win a case.


This is a point worth repeating….HCPSS violated the privacy rights of two students so that they could help their BOE legal counsel try to win their case.

Who gave the green light to use a special needs child’s 504 accommodations to cross-examine his parent?


Audio clips 1 & 2 can be found in Part 1 of this series.


In Part 1, it was revealed that social media activity by parents is considered “fair game” for HCPSS central office staff when evaluating whether or not to grant a redistricting exemption to a student with an IEP or 504 plan.


Audio clips 3 & 4 can be found in Part 2 of this series.


In Part 2, it was revealed that HCPSS central office staff consulted the confidential information of a student’s 504 or IEP plan as they made determinations for redistricting exemptions solely because their supervisors allowed them to and assisted them in doing so, despite the fact that no legal authority existed for this invasive maneuver in HCPSS Policy 9000.

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