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Hillsborough district wins high schooler's ESE case

Kathleen Flynn/Times



School district officials don't often make announcements about legal cases.

But the due process case brought by Veleria Fabiszak on behalf of her daughter, Chelsea, was widely publicized in Hillsborough County.

Fabiszak, who now lives with her family in California, accused the district of denying Chelsea the education she should have had under federal laws that protect students with disabilities. Chelsea has Rett Syndrome, a childhood neurodevelopment disorder.

Fabiszak became a frequent speaker at School Board meetings after Chelsea came home from Gaither High School in 2011 with a broken thigh bone. Fabiszak contended that her daughter, who cannot speak, spent much of the day in severe pain and staff failed to call 911, which could have resulted in her death. The district said two investigations cleared them of wrongdoing.

The due process case focused on services that were given Chelsea, 21, while she was a student in Hillsborough. The family wanted compensatory damages.

School district attorney Tom Gonzalez told the School Board on Tuesay, "the hearing officer issued a final order that we did not violate the Free and Appropriate Public Education and did provide the child with FAPE. ... That case is now at its finality with respect to the administrative process and if the parents wish to, they have to now file in federal or state court."

Fabiszak said she was not surprised about the announcement. District officials had told her that when they won, "they wanted to be able to announce it to the world."

She said her family is appealing, although she is not sure where or how they will get a lawyer.

"We're not happy about it, of course, but we're not going to stop," she said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 8:21pm]


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