07/16 - Autistic student’s fate hangs on ruling - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

07/16 - Autistic student’s fate hangs on ruling

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Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2003 9:26 am | Updated: 2:09 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

A U.S. District Court judge said Tuesday he will issue a written ruling on whether the Gilbert Unified School District can force an autistic child who is alleged to be a danger to himself and others into a private school.

Judge Stephen McNamee gave no hints on when or which way he will rule, but he did wonder aloud why the issue was before him and not a state administrative officer.

Gilbert schools attorney David Schwartz said the district needed a temporary restraining order to keep the 16-year-old child, referred to as C.M. in court documents, from attending Desert Ridge High School until a final decision is made on where to place him.

And an administrative officer’s order would last only 45 days before having to be renewed, said Denise Lowell-Britt, who also represents the district.

School begins Aug. 14, and the child’s administrative hearing isn’t until a day later.

Schwartz said the boy hit staff members just about every third day from March to May, and court documents state he hurt himself 32 times during the 2002-03 school year.

The district has taken numerous reasonable steps to protect the child, but the district has reached its limits, and it has a duty to other students as well, Schwartz said.

The district, which is legally required to provide an education for the child, has recommended he attend a private school in Tempe.

The boy’s parents, however, don’t believe it would be as good for their son as Desert Ridge, said Jerri Katzerman, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Disability Law.

She agreed that the district has done plenty for the child, but not the right things.

The district isn’t listening to what the parents have to say, and instead have painted the child as a monster, Katzerman said.

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