Hearing dates have been set for the end of July for a Due Process complaint filed against the St. Ansgar School District and The Central Rivers Area Education Agency (AEA).

The complaint was filed on behalf of Elizabeth Esdohr, a 21-year-old special needs student attending Iowa Lakes Community College from the St. Ansgar district by her guardians Michael Esdohr, Brenda Esdohr, and Sue Shires.

The complaint alleges that the St. Ansgar Schools and the AEA violated the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) when they did not provide a free college education to Elizabeth for the 2018 fall semester.

Part B of the IDEA requires that public agencies, such as public schools, “make available ‘free appropriate public education’ to all children with disabilities…at no cost to the parent or child.”
In order to be eligible, a child must be evaluated by the district. Then, the guardians and the school district work out an IEP — a legal document that spells out a child’s educational goals and the services and support the school will provide.

The complaint states that in February of 2018, the Prairie Lakes AEA informed Elizabeth and her guardians that since she was on track to meet her special education goals by the end of the semester, the public agencies would terminate her IEP and no longer pay for her college education.

The Esdohrs and Shires objected, and over the next nine months they and members of the school district and AEA met repeatedly discuss Elizabeth’s IEP, her eligibility and her goals and placement for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the complaint.

At the start of the fall 2018 semester, Elizabeth had no IEP in place when she enrolled in classes at Iowa Lakes — the complaint states that her IEP was not finalized until November of 2018.

The complaint states that since no IEP was in place for Elizabeth when she enrolled, the St. Ansgar School did not provide a free education for Elizabeth for that semester.

The complainants are requesting that the school reimburse Elizabeth for the semester she completed without an IEP, as well as pay for her to attend Iowa Lakes in the fall 2019 semester, as well as all attorney fees.

The St. Ansgar School District declined to comment until the hearings have taken place.

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