Tenn. Autism Case May Go to Supreme Court

By Bryan Hahn for WDEF

A legal battle that started here in Hamilton County could set a national precedent on how schools serve autistic children.

A local family recently won a lawsuit that could cost the county millions of dollars.

Now, school members will appeal the case to the U-S Supreme Court.
10-year old Zachary Deal suffers from autism.

His parents say he needs one on one attention from teachers to develop
his mind.

Zachary’s family says Hamilton County Schools failed to do that which
led to a legal battle dating back to 19-99.

Earlier in the month, the U-S Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the family.

Phillip Deal, Zachary’s Father”We hoped with the unanimous decision
of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that it would have ended here.”

Even though School Board Members were criticized for spending 2-point
3 million dollars on the case…they’re appealing again.

This time to the U-S Supreme Court.

Joe Conner says they’re doing so because the board is looking long

Joe Conner, Hamilton County School Board”The alternative could very
well be a tremendous increase in special education.”

“They estimated this program for one child in 1999 at 60-100 thousand

Conner says that translates to 11 million additional dollars to the
school budget.

But Zachary’s father Phillip Deal says those numbers are wrong.

Phillip Deal, Zachary’s Father”Not every child in Hamilton County
that has autism needs the same type of services my son needs.”

Hamilton County Commissioner Larry Henry who has opposed the board’s
handling of this case agrees with the family.

Larry Henry, Hamilton County Commissioner”It could have been
settled for one of the legal expert witnesses they’ve used for less than
75-thousand dollars.”

Now, it will likely take the U-S Supreme Court to put closure to this
legal mess that’s been ongoing for the past 6 years.

Board Members say they’ll attempt to settle with the Deal family
before pursuing their appeal with the U-S Supreme Court.

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