Case of Evan V.*
As part of their work with YELP during the Winter 2014 quarter, Samantha Lefland ('15) and Kip Hustace ('15) represented 10-year-old Evan V.* in a combined special education and expulsion matter.
Although Evan was in special education and entitled to receive necessary behavioral and mental health supports, prior to YELP's involvement Evan's school district had a long history of unlawfully ignoring Evan's escalating behavioral and mental health needs at school. As a result, Evan had repeatedly engaged in impulsive and aggressive behaviors, such as kicking classroom aides, throwing chairs, and eloping from school grounds, demonstrating over and over that he could be a danger to himself and to others.
Then in the fall of 2013, while unsupervised at school, Evan found a knife that was left lying out by staff and carried the knife down a school hallway. Evan was tackled by adults and fell to the floor, hitting his head. The police were called and Evan was admitted to the hospital for his second involuntary psychiatric hold that school year.
Evan's mental health professionals reported that they believed he had disassociated during the incident and needed additional help at school. Instead of taking the opportunity to respond lawfully by providing an appropriate school placement with necessary therapies, behavioral supports, and supervision that would keep everyone safe, the school district chose to try to expel Evan. Evan's mother called YELP and Kim and Samantha took the case.
After a thorough investigation, Kip and Samantha learned that the school district had been on actual notice of Evan's needs for a long time and had failed to act appropriately. They were able to use this knowledge and the corresponding threat of litigation to negotiate a very favorable outcome for their client. As a result, Evan was placed in a therapeutic day treatment class with constant supervision and his expulsion has been suspended and may be expunged from his record in the future.
*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.