Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Hearing again likely in case of apraxia student

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

FORT THOMAS - A case involving the parents of a Highlands Middle School special-education student and the Fort Thomas School District may be headed back to a hearing this month.

Paul and Cheryl Hansman of Fort Thomas filed a complaint in April with the Kentucky Department of Education, seeking nearly $300,000 from the district to educate their son Paul at home.

A tentative agreement was reached between attorneys for the two sides minutes before a due process hearing was set to begin June 13.

But the deal has not been approved by the Fort Thomas Board of Education, and it doesn't appear it will be before a new hearing. Superintendent Larry Stinson said a vote on the issue is not on the agenda for the district's monthly board meeting Aug. 11. "The board is not interested in negotiating on this issue," said Stinson.

The Hansmans claim Paul, 14, who suffers from severe apraxia - a speech communication disorder - was not given a teacher aide and special equipment they say he needed to function in a mainstream classroom.

They said without those resources, Paul has developed a school phobia that now requires him to be educated at home, and they want the district to pay for it.

With school set to open Aug. 18 and the case pending, the Hansmans plan to educate Paul at home at their own expense.

"I think it's wrong because who they're ultimately hurting is Paul," Cheryl Hansman said. "We agreed on certain things. Was it everything I wanted? No. But it would have educated Paul, and that's what's important."

Terms of the tentative settlement have not been released.

If the Fort Thomas Board of Education does not approve a settlement by Aug. 29, a due process hearing will take place Aug. 29-30 and Sept. 6 at the district's central office. Beverly Henderson, a special-education administrator in Fayette County, has been assigned by the Kentucky Department of Education to hear the case. She will render a written decision, most likely in October.


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