Cases & Deals

High school student, suffering with severe depression and anxiety, finds a way to learn and is afforded the opportunity to graduate on time

Client(s) AS

Mark Rotatori, Danielle Olivotto and Emily Merkler Wood, Jones Day Chicago, recently obtained a favorable result for our client in another special education pro bono matter with our pro bono partner-Equip for Equality.

Under Mark's supervision, Danielle and Emily represented a seventeen-year-old high school student who had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. In October of 2010, the student's mother suffered a stroke, rendering the student unable to attend school because of his severe anxiety and depression. During the fall semester, the student was working with a homebound tutor provided by the school district. However, during the winter semester, the school district discontinued all tutoring services. Prior to Jones Day's involvement, the school district and the mother met and agreed that the student was eligible for an individualized education plan ("IEP"), but the parties were unable to agree as to where the services should be provided. The school district suggested that the student transfer to a therapeutic day school, an option that the mother, the student, the student's private social worker, and the student's psychiatrist adamantly opposed.

After Jones Day took this case, Danielle and Emily gathered documentation from our client, his mother and his doctors supporting the need for an alternative learning environment, namely one that would allow the student to complete his course work without having to physically attend class. Danielle and Emily then negotiated with the school district's attorney to immediately reinstate homebound tutoring pending the outcome of a second IEP meeting. Subsequent to the IEP meeting, the school district agreed to allow the student to complete all of his high school course work via Ombudsman, a program that allows students to receive computer assisted personalized instruction, individualized attention with a low student-to-instructor ratio, and the freedom to work at their own pace.

The IEP meeting was a great success for our client because now he will be able to graduate high school on time in an environment that does not exacerbate his severe anxiety and depression.