By William Croyle
Enquirer staff writer
ERLANGER - The Erlanger-Elsmere school district no longer has to bus children after school to Redwood School and Rehabilitation Center, a hearing officer has ruled.
The district has been providing the service for about eight years for special-needs children.
Two families argued Sept. 2 that the district was required to provide the transportation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The district argued the service is, and always has been, a courtesy, and it could no longer afford it.
On Oct. 18, the service will end, Superintendent Mike Sander said Monday.
The decision, handed down Friday, has ramifications locally and statewide, Sander said.
"Had it been ruled the other way, a lot of districts in the state would have had to find ways to transport kids," said Sander. "We'd have had to find ways to transport 40 to 50 special-education kids all over the area, some even to Cincinnati."
John and Teresa Brolley's 14-year-old daughter, Maria, has cerebral palsy and has been bused to Redwood by the district each day after school since kindergarten.
The family and their attorney argued that service should continue because it's a "related service" - as defined under the act - to the special-education services Maria receives at Tichenor Middle School. They said that, without services she receives at Redwood in using a computer, she would not be able to communicate in school.
"As trite as it may sound, you win some and you lose some," John Brolley said of the ruling. "We have to focus on our daughter's education under a new set of circumstances, and we can't afford to waste our energy on anger or resentment."
The Brolleys' attorney, Shanda Spurlock of the Children's Law Center, said John Brolley's nice-guy attitude may have backfired. She said one of the main reasons the hearing officer gave for the decision was that the Brolleys have never complained and have always been complimentary of the district.
"Unfortunately, I think the fact that they tried to work hard with the district in getting this resolved and didn't complain - it worked against them," said Spurlock.
The district's attorney, Lawson Walker, disagreed.
"I think the core reason (for the decision) is that the hearing officer agreed with the district that the transportation was a courtesy and not a requirement," said Walker.
Nancy Nusz, director of special education for Spencer County Public Schools, heard the case. She said Monday she couldn't comment on the proceedings.
The other family Nusz ruled against was Allen King and his son, Kyle. King said last month that he'd have to pull Kyle out of Redwood if the hearing officer ruled against the families with children who have special needs.
King was unavailable Monday for comment.
John Brolley said they have not decided whether they will appeal.
Campaigns war over Cleveland
Voter signups record in Ohio
Ohio court race attracts big money
Kerry slams Bush on stem-cell issue
Blackwell dismissive after Jackson blasts voting rule
Nader sues to be included on Ohio ballot
Bush enacts more tax cuts as he campaigns
Cheney-Edwards debate takes on increased importance
Election 2004 page
TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Jackpot lures Powerball players
Bengals near $2M tax deal
Cincinnati considers limits on 'rent-to-own'
Horse meat restaurant may just be pulling our leg
Inmate serving life term for Ohio slaying collapses, dies
Innocence Project testimony ends
Motorcyclist remains in hospital after crash
Local news briefs
Cross-burning teen gets 21 months
Judicial forum not a quiet one
Newport lowers property tax
Senior hoopsters still have the drive to play
Lawmakers take up Ky. insurance plan
Robot helped negotiate surrender
Former cop cleared in shooting of black
Kentucky news briefs
School warns of drug parties
Public schools gird for drug war
Special-needs busing ends
At NKU: Old pols precede the VPs
Mount Notre Dame students honor Olympian graduate
UC will host science and engineering expo
NCH senior center seeks levy approval
West Chester library crowded
Church conference begins in Forest Park
Bronson: Slowly, crime is emptying neighborhoods
Great Britain great adventure
James Kiggen, 72, business, civic gem