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In Re: Student v. Boston Public Schools BSEA # 24-03492


Division of Administrative Law Appeals

Bureau of Special Education Appeals

In Re: Student v. Boston Public Schools                                                                                    

BSEA # 24-03492

Ruling on Student’s Motion for Summary Judgment

On October 5, 2023, Student filed a Hearing Request, in the above-referenced matter. The initial Notice of Hearing scheduled the hearing for November 9, 2023.

On October 16, 2023, Boston Public Schools (Boston or District) moved for a one-week extension of time to file the Response to Student’s Hearing Request,[1] noting that the District had not received the Request for Hearing or Notice of Hearing until October 16, 2023.[2] Boston’s Response to the Hearing Request was received on October 23, 2023.  

This matter was administratively reassigned to the undersigned Hearing Officer on October 24, 2023.

On November 8, 2023, with Student’s assent, Boston requested, and was granted, a postponement of the hearing so that the Parties could participate in mediation.  At the Parties’ request the Hearing was continued to February 27 and 28, 2024.

On February 21, 2024, the Parties filed a joint Motion to Continue the Hearing. The BSEA granted the Parties’ request and the hearing was continued to April 8 and 9, 2024.  An additional request for postponement was received on March 25, 2024, because the Parties were attempting to resolve the case informally and required additional time.  At the request of the Parties, the Hearing was continued to June 11 and 12, 2024.  Boston also requested the scheduling of a pre-hearing conference to further clarify the issues for Hearing.

On March 26, 2024, Student filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking implementation of his stay-put placement and compensatory services consistent with his last agreed upon IEP.  Student further sought reimbursement for educational costs incurred as a result of   Boston’s “noncompliance” with Student’s stay-put IEP during the 2023-2024 school year.

A Joint Motion to Stay the Ruling on Parent’s Motion for Summary Judgment and Continue Boston’s Response through May of 2024, was received on April 9, 2024.  The ruling on the Motion for Summary Judgment was stayed and the Hearing remained scheduled to proceed in June 2024 consistent with the previous scheduling Order.   

On May 1, 2024, Boston filed an Opposition to Student’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Boston’s Opposition contained nine exhibits identified as SE-1 to SE-9.  

This Ruling is issued in consideration of the Parties’ submissions, including school exhibits  S-1 through SE-9.

Historical, Procedural and Factual[3] Background:

  1. Student is a 20 year-old resident of Boston, Massachusetts. He lives with Parent, who is his Court Appointed Guardian (hereinafter “Parent”).  Student has granted Parent authority to represent his educational interests.
  2. Student carries diagnoses of Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  He is an IDEA eligible student and most recently has received educational services at Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA), though the Autism full inclusion program. (SE-3; SE-4; SE-6).
  3. On February 24, 2021, Student’s Team convened for an Annual Review.  While the Team determined that Student had met all state and local requirements for graduation, it ultimately proposed that Student complete an additional year of high school to focus on transition-specific skills, while participating in a dual enrollment program at a local college.  At the time of this meeting, Student was participating in work-based learning experiences and was enrolled in a pre-employment transition program.
  4. As a result of the February 2021 Annual Review meeting, Boston proposed an IEP for the period from February 24, 2021, to February 24, 2022.  Parent fully accepted this IEP on Student’s behalf, on October 18, 2021. (SE-3).
  5. On January 20, 2022, the Team re-convened to conduct another Annual Review. During the meeting, Parent expressed concern about Student’s readiness to transition out of high school and achieve his goals of becoming employed part-time and attending college.
  6. At the meeting, Boston reported that Student was making “great gains” in navigating his new schedule, which included part-time work and a class at Roxbury Community College, and that Student was able to navigate between home, school, and programming independently on the MBTA.  Student reported enjoying his classes and overall program.
  7. Student’s Team proposed an IEP for the period from January 20, 2022 to January 20, 2023, with a focus on transitional skills such as communication, self-regulation, and executive functioning. (SE-4; SE-6).
  8. On May 5, 2022, Student’s Team reconvened to discuss the effectiveness of the transition program.  According to Boston, at the meeting, Student expressed a desire to graduate, receive his high school diploma, and begin participating in post-secondary programming.
  9. The Team found that Student’s Autism and ADHD diagnoses impacted his social and communicative skills and that he continued to require goals and objectives that supported work skills and post-secondary education. The Team noted that while Student’s academic math skills were strong, as evidenced by completion of a calculus course at Roxbury Community College, he would require remedial English instruction because his English scores fell below college expected levels.
  10. The May 2022 Team determined that Student should continue to work on his IEP goals, with an expected graduation date of January 20, 2023.
  11.  On June 24, 2022, Parent partially rejected the proposed January 2022- January 2023 IEP on behalf of Student. (SE-4; SE-6).
  12. In September of 2022, the Parties participated in a BSEA mediation and agreed that Boston would conduct an additional transition assessment, and that the District would also fund an independent transition evaluation.
  13. Boston’s Transition Evaluation and the independent transition evaluation concluded that Student had successfully completed his transition goals and should graduate because he possessed the necessary skills to function independently in the community, participate appropriately in job settings, and attend college.  The Team  agreed to provide services until the end of the 2022-2023 school year, at which point they recommended that Student graduate and accept his diploma. (SE-7).
  14. In April of 2023, Student’s Team offered an IEP covering the period from April 24, 2023 to June 23, 2023, and proposed that Student graduate and accept his diploma at the conclusion of this IEP period. (SE-1).
  15. On May 5, 2023, Parent rejected the April 24, 2023 to June 23, 2023 IEP. (SE-1)
  16.  When the April 2023 IEP was proposed, Student was successfully participating in a part-time paid internship and attending community college courses at Bunker Hill Community College, receiving As and Bs in these classes.  Student also continued to navigate the community independently using the MBTA to access college and his job. (SE-5).
  17.  On May 18, 2023, Parent filed a Complaint with DESE’s Problem Resolution System (PRS), claiming that Student had not received transition training and alleging noncompliance regarding Student’s transition services. (SE-8).
  18.  PRS found that Boston was in compliance with all relevant laws, that Student had met all necessary graduation requirements, that Student was able to complete coursework at community college without assistance or tutoring from the disability services office, and that Boston had provided Student with an IEP and educational program reasonably calculated to offer Student a FAPE. (SE-8).
  19. On September 7, 2023, Student attempted to attend school at BCLA. He was sent home and informed that he was no longer permitted to attend school.
  20. On October 5, 2023, Student filed the instant Hearing Request alleging that because he had rejected the April 2023 to June 2023 IEP, he was entitled to continue attending school pursuant to the stay-put” provision.  Student further noted that because he carried a diagnoses of Autism and ADHD he was not ready to graduate.  Student’s Hearing Request challenged the District’s assertion to Parent that in September of 2022, Parent had signed documents agreeing that Student would graduate in June of 2023. According to Student/ Parent, no such paperwork had been signed, they were never informed that Student had graduated in June of 2023, and Student never received his diploma.
  21. On October 23, 2023, Boston filed a Response to Hearing Request asserting that the proposed IEPs and placement offered by Boston had been reasonably calculated to provide Student a FAPE, that Student had made effective progress in his educational program in Boston, and that by June of 2023, he had met all state and local requirements for graduation and had earned his diploma. Boston asserted that it had complied with all procedural and substantive requirements of the law, that Student should accept his diploma, and sought denial of all of Student’s/ Parent’s claims. (SE-2).
  22.  On March 26, 2024, Student filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that Boston failed to comply with “stay-put” and failed to uphold the last agreed upon placement in violation of 603 CMR 28.08(7).  Student provided no supportive arguments or documentary evidence with this Motion.
  23. Following granting of a stay of the Ruling on Student’s Motion and continuing the deadline for submission of Boston’s opposition to the Motion, on May 1, 2024, Boston filed an Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment with attached Exhibits[4], asserting Parent’s Motion should be denied in its entirety because it failed to establish that no genuine issue of material fact existed regarding Student’s stay-put rights and compensatory services.

Legal Standards:

  1. Motion for Summary Judgment

Rule 56 of the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure (MRCP) and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) allow parties to move for summary decisions. 801 CMR 1.01(7)(h), applicable to administrative proceedings in Massachusetts including the BSEA, provides that summary decision may be granted when there is “no genuine issue of fact relating to all or part of a claim or defense and [the moving party] is entitled to prevail as a matter of law.” The mere existence of some alleged dispute of fact is not sufficient to defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; there must be no genuine issue of material fact. A dispute is “genuine” if the evidence indicates it could be reasonably resolved in favor of either party, and a fact is “material” if it could potentially affect the outcome of the case.[5] 

The party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of proof; the moving party must affirmatively demonstrate the absence of a genuine material dispute of fact, and that it is entitled to a summary decision as a matter of law.[6] In response to a motion for summary decision, the recipient must present specific evidence demonstrating that there is a genuine issue for hearing.[7]  To survive a motion for summary judgment and proceed to hearing, the recipient must demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence in their favor to permit a reasonable fact finder to decide for them.[8]  All evidence and inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.[9]


Student’s March 26, 2024 Motion for Summary Judgment alleges that Boston violated the  stay-put provision of the IDEA[10]  when Boston prevented Student from attending school in September 2023 after Student had rejected the April 2023 to June 2023 IEP.  This IEP proposed that Student graduate in June of 2023.  Student reasoned that in rejecting the IEP,  his stay-put right  to continue to receive services pursuant to his last agreed upon IEP attached.  Further, Student argued that since Boston erred in not honoring Student’s right to said placement, equitable relief was warranted in the form of compensatory services in accordance with his last agreed upon IEP.

Boston Opposed Student’s Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that genuine issues of material fact existed and disputing Student’s right to a stay-put placement and compensatory services because Student had completed all graduation requirements and was entitled to his diploma. Boston denies having violated any educational law or policy, and further asserts that a material dispute exists as to: (1) whether the IEPs offered by Boston, including the one covering the period from April 2023 to June 2023 afforded Student a FAPE; and, (2) whether Student presents skill deficits caused by any interruption of services allegedly owed and necessitating remediation thereby entitling Student to compensatory services.  Given the Parties’ disagreement over facts material to disposition of Student’s claims, Boston asserts that a hearing is necessary to resolve the dispute between the Parties and to ascertain what equitable remedies, if any, is Student entitled.  

Boston is persuasive that a hearing is necessary to ascertain whether procedural and substantive violations entitling Student to compensatory services exist, and if so, the nature, length and intensity of the compensatory services needed to make the student whole.  I find that Student has failed to affirmatively demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact entitling him to summary decision as a matter of law, in light of Boston’s assertion that Student was provided a FAPE and has met all state and local graduation requirements, an event, that by operation of law, ends Student’s entitlement to special education.  As such, Student’s Motion must be DENIED.  This matter will proceed to Hearing as scheduled starting on June 11, 2024.


1.   Student’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

So Ordered by the Hearing Officer,

Rosa I. Figueroa

Dated:  June 3, 2024

I would like to express my appreciation to Olivia Stevens, BSEA legal intern, for her contributions to this Ruling.

[1]  Student assented to this request.

[2]  A re-calculated Notice of Hearing was not issued.

[3] The factual statements appearing herein are taken as true for purposes of this ruling only.

[4]  The Motion was attached to an email which stated it was Boston’s intention to file a counterclaim; to date, the BSEA has not received this counterclaim.

[5]  Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-2 (1986).

[6]  Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 389 U.S. 144, 157 (1970).

[7]  Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

[8]  Id. at 249.

[9]  McCarty v. Northwest Airlines, Inc., 56 F.3d 313, 315 (1st Cir. 1995).

[10] 20 U.S.C. s1415(e)(3); 34 CFR §300.518. See also 603 CMR 28.08 (7).

Updated on June 10, 2024

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