An Illinois district did not retaliate against the parent of a student with a disability when it declined to grant an aide after the child suffered a traumatic brain injury on the playground. Rochester (IL) Sch. Dist. 3A, 54 IDELR 233 (OCR 2009).

On the student’s return to school, her physician recommended she receive additional assistance with staying on task, refocusing and rechecking her work. The student’s parent alleged the district refused to provide an aide in retaliation for her advocacy on the child’s behalf.

The district argued that the student’s teacher could provide the support the physician suggested. OCR noted that the doctor’s letter did not specify that an aide was required, only that the student needed extra help. As such, the district’s refusal was not an adverse action taken in response to the mother’s advocacy.

Physician recommendations play a key role in some service decisions. Yet, disagreements about how these orders translate to the school setting can ignite contention and lead to a claim like the one in this case. Devise steps to mitigate such conflict. Also support denials of service requests with sound data.

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