A Federal court has ordered the Galveston Independent School District to pay almost $76,000 in attorney fees to a student whose family asserted the district denied their daughter special education services.
The March 11 decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas orders the district to pay $75,936.95 on top of the $70,839.05 the court told it to pay in March 2017, according to court records.
The original lawsuit asserted the school district denied special education services to the student in 2013.
After being enrolled in special education services in the district from 2004 to 2009, the girl was withdrawn for four years of home schooling, according to court records.
The original court 2015 decision ruled in favor of some points from the family’s case, a decision the school district then appealed, according to court records.
The court then ordered the school district to pay the initial $70,839.05 for attorney fees, a decision the school district appealed but lost in March 2018, the family’s attorney Dorene Philpot said.
The additional $75,936.95 will pay for the family’s attorney fees during the appeal process, Philpot said.
The district shouldn’t have appealed the second time, Philpot said.
“They basically doubled their losses and the taxpayers get to pay for this bad decision-making,” Philpot said.
The fees were reduced in part from what the family originally asked for, but the ruling still wasn’t what the school district was hoping for, Superintendent of Schools Kelli Moulton said.
“There is opportunity to appeal,” Moulton said. “We have not made our decision yet.”
District officials told the family they couldn’t find records showing the student’s special education records and determined she had been dismissed from the program, according to court records.
The student was given an evaluation in 2015 and the district determined the student met special education criteria, according to court records.
The case is from several years ago and the school is dedicated to providing resources to all students, district board of trustees President Tony Brown said.
“More recently, our current board of trustees has worked with staff to provide additional resources for special education testing and instruction,” Brown said. “I do hope that we will use those resources effectively, to provide our children the education they need and deserve.”
The district’s insurance carrier is the Texas Association of School Boards, district officials said. The association will pay all fees passed down from the court, officials said.