HISD Ordered To Pay Family Back $17,000 For Son's Special Education

When a special education hearing officer ruled in their favor this week, the whole Groogan family was thrilled.

The officer says the Houston Independent School District failed to give their son Garrett an appropriate education. He’s nine years old and has autism.

“It’s wonderful to have won something that you’ve fought so hard for. And my son, he’s the big winner. He gets to keep on getting a great education.”

Michelle Groogan says her son Garrett joined the celebration.

“He’s was so cute. He’s like we won and he put his hands in the air, you know victory, like he was the champion.”

The Groogans fought HISD in a kind of special education court. It’s called a due process hearing. Very few parents use it. Even fewer win.

Groogan hopes more parents will take a stand even though it’s tough.

“I think that they can fight Goliath. You know, that’s what we felt like, that’s what it felt like.”

The ruling says HISD didn’t track her son’s progress in school and made the special education classes bigger just to help the campus, not students like Garrett.

He fell so far behind that his parents felt forced to put him in a private school.

Now the officer wants the district to pay the family more than $17,000 dollars for that private school.

Jason Spencer with HISD says in an email that school district attorneys are reviewing the ruling and will give the board different options to move forward.

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