Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Orange County School Board

(Altamonte Springs, FL) July 19, 2023 — The Orange County School Board (OCSB) is facing a $1.8 million lawsuit filed by the family of a student with special needs who was denied her right to an appropriate education. The Parnes family, represented by attorneys Kevin Ross-Andino and Jolynn Falto-Tomas from éclat Law, allege that OCSB violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The complaint alleges that during online learning caused by COVID-19, from March 2020 through February 2021, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) systematically denied the student’s rights by failing to provide her with a free and appropriate public education, or FAPE — as mandated under both state and federal laws. The lawsuit also charges that OCPS did not provide necessary accommodations or an adequate Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to meet the student’s needs. The IEP is a legal document that outlines personalized learning objectives and goals for students with disabilities.

The Parnes family further alleges in their suit that OCSB retaliated against them, violating the prohibition against retaliation outlined in the ADA. In December 2020, after the Florida Department of Education found that OCPS did violate the student’s access to FAPE and issued corrective action, OCSB filed complaints to appeal the decision with both the Department of Administrative Hearings and the 5th District Court of Appeals. This forced the family into an ongoing legal battle, leading them to remove their child from the public school system and place her in a costly private institution.

OCSB has until July 24th to respond to this complaint.

The family of the student, and their attorneys, hope that by filing this lawsuit they will send a message that discrimination against special needs students is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. They also hope to provide an example of how parents affected by disability discrimination can take action to ensure their children receive the education they deserve.

This case could set an important precedent for future cases involving similar issues of discrimination against students with special needs. If successful, it could compel Orange County Public Schools and other school districts to better comply with state and federal laws in providing FAPE for students with disabilities. The case is currently pending before the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.

Read the Complaint Here.

About éclat Law, PA:

éclat Law is an innovative law firm dedicated to delivering client-focused solutions in the practice areas of civil rights and employment law, complex litigation, business law, and entertainment and arts. Founded by Kevin Ross-Andino in 2015,  the éclat team of experienced attorneys and staff is passionate about serving the needs of clients both in and out of the courtroom.