Cases & Deals

Eighteen year old pro bono client, diagnosed with autism and mild mental retardation, obtains appropriate education and related services

Client(s) Client W

Emma Salustro and Kenny Luchesi, Jones Day Chicago, successfully concluded litigation for an eighteen year old pro bono client diagnosed with autism and mild mental retardation. The client has long struggled academically as he reads and writes at a first grade level or lower. He had attended therapeutic day schools geared toward children with autism prior to moving into the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district. Despite having several Individualized Education Plans (including 2 from CPS) requiring the District to place him in a therapeutic day school, CPS placed the client in a local general education school. He regressed terribly in this setting to the point where he was entirely nonverbal. He was also frequently handcuffed to his desk when he became physically frustrated. Therefore, he was not receiving a free and appropriate education and the related services he is guaranteed under IDEA and the Illinois School Code.

Thirteen months after his transfer into CPS, Emma and Kenny (with help from Mark Rotatori) got involved. First, they were able to work through diplomatic channels to get CPS to place the client at the Easter Seals School for Autism. Second, they filed for an administrative hearing with the Illinois State Board of Education for compensatory services to compensate for the 13 months the client spent in an inappropriate educational settling. Emma and Kenny concluded the administrative case last week with a settlement through which they obtained nearly everything originally requested for the client, including additional extracurricular services for Client W. and his family.

In addition, because the client turned 18 during this process, Emma and Kenny were able to obtain adult guardianship by the client's father and standby guardianship by his grandmother through the Illinois Probate Court.