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9th Circuit Opinion - N.B. et al. vs Hellgate Elementary School District: The federal appeals court held that Hellgate Elementary School District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. Section 1400 et. seq., by failing to obtain an autism evaluation in a timely manner. The court held that simply directing the parent to a local evaluation resource was not sufficient to meet the school's affirmative obligation to comprehensively evaluate the child. The court upheld the lower court's denial of extended school year services (ESEY) on the facts of this case. The court found that the hearing officer and district court had properly applied Montana's policy guidance for determining whether a child is entitled to ESY. Montana's policy utilizes a regression-recoupment analysis and lists numerous factors to be considered under that analysis, such as whether the child has emerging skills. Finally, the appeals court held that the standard for a free appropriate public education is whether the IEP is designed to provide "meaningful educational benefit," not just "some educational benefit." [September 4, 2008]
 
Boatman vs. Missoula County Office of Elections: On May 27, 2011, Montana Human Rights Bureau Hearings Officer Gregory L. Hanchett found that Mr. Mark Boatman, a voter with a mobility impairment, was discriminated against when the Missoula County Election Office failed to provide a functioning voting machine for him in the 2008 presidential election.
 
In the Matter of C.S.: In this case decided on March 18, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court and required that a student's foster father be appointed as his surrogate parent for IDEA proceedings, replacing a virtual stranger who had been appointed to this position at the request of the Butte School District.  Once appointed, this unrelated individual hastily agreed to a long-disputed IEP. Neither the student's foster father nor his DRM attorney were even notified of the proceeding to appoint the surrogate. The student appealed this decision and the Montana Supreme Court found in his favor and remanded the matter to the district court to remove the current surrogate and appoint the student's foster father instead.
 
McDonald vs. DEQ - [1]Hearing Officer Decision: On August 4, 2006, Gregory L. Hanchett, Hearing Examiner for the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, granted judgment in favor of McDonald, and against DEQ on McDonald's charge of illegal disability discrimination against her by failing to provide McDonald with a reasonable accommodation so that she could perform the functions of her job as a DEQ emloyee.
 
McDonald vs. DEQ - [2]Human Rights Commission Decision: On December 28, 2006, the Human Rights Commission filed an Order affirming the Hearing Officer's August 4, 2006, Decision.
 
McDonald vs. DEQ - [3]Montana District Court Decision: On May 16, 2007, District Court Judge Thomas C. Honzel reversed the Decision of the Human Rights Commission.
 
McDonald vs. DEQ - [4]Montana Supreme Court Decision: On Appeal, the Montana Supreme Court found that McDonald, a person with a qualified disability, was entitled to a reasonable accommodation so that she could use her service animal effectively in the workplace. The Court found her requested accommodation of nonskid floor coverings was not beyond the scope of the employers duty under the Montana Human Rights Act (MHRA). [June 17, 2009]
 
McDonald vs. DEQ - [5]Montana District Court Order on Remand: On April 20, 2010, Hon. Kathy Seeley, Montana District Court Judge, affirmed the December 28, 2006, decision of the Human Rights Commission.
 
MSH Discriminated Against Patient with Mobility Impairment When It WIthheld Motorized Wheelchair:  [View PDF]  On July 13, 2012, Montana Human Rights Bureau Hearing Officer Gregory L. Hanchestt found that Ms. Brooke Jaqueth, a patient with a mobility impairment, was discriminated against when the Warm Springs State Hospital refused to allow her to use her motorized wheelchair. [July 2012].
 
Swart vs. State of Montana, DOL Unemployment Insurance Division:

The U.S. Senate considered extending the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program. Unfortunately, original versions of this bill eliminated unemployment benefits for people receiving social security disability insurance (SSDI).  Although this bill did not make its way to the Senate floor, we hear that a similar bill is likely to be advanced soon.

DRM believes that this provision is discriminatory and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. People receiving SSDI or SSI are, by definition, people with disabilities. When they work, they are entitled to the same compensation as other comparable employees and should have the same unemployment benefits as well.

DRM made this argument in a 2006 case in front of Judge Sherlock of the First Judicial District in Helena. In that case, we successfully represented a woman receiving SSI benefits who had her unemployment insurance denied because Montana state law prohibited people from collecting unemployment benefits if they were getting "compensation for disability under . . . the social security disability law." The court struck down that part of the state law.

DRM was proud to learn that the decision in this case is being used by national and local disability advocates to urge our Montana Senators as well as others to remove this provision from any future proposal to extend unemployment benefits.