Cooper Erving & Savage Settles Lawsuit on Behalf of a Student Denied Autism-Related Services by School District for 1.55 M.


Contact: Carlo A. C. de Oliveira, Attorney
June 5, 2023 (Cooper Erving & Savage LLP)

After 5 years of litigation in Federal District Court, the North Syracuse Central School District settled a lawsuit against the district that was brought by a family of a student who claimed that the school district had failed to provide their autistic son proper education and accommodations while he was a student.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2018 alleging that the School District had violated the child’s rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (42 U.S.C. §794[a]), which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance, such as a School District, from excluding from participation in, denying benefits of, or discriminating against a student on the basis of his or her disability.  In their lawsuit, the parents alleged that the North Syracuse Central School District discriminated against their son by denying him autism-related services necessary for their son’s education in spite of experts’ recommendation and the family’s offer to pay for the services.  The lawsuit also alleged that the District failed to, among other things, (1) provide a certified special education teacher to the child, (2) provide a full-time 1:1 teaching assistant for the child, (3) complete a Functional Behavior Assessment (“FBA”) to address the behaviors impeding on the child’s learning, and (4) provide the child with an augmented assistive communication device necessary for the child’s communication in class.  The parents also claimed that the teachers improperly strapped their son into a chair while in school rather than provide adequate staffing to monitor and educate the child.

Following the first week of trial, the case was compromised and settled on Friday, June 2 with the School District agreeing to pay to the student the sum of $1,550,000.  Lead counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. de Oliveira stated that he was very pleased to have resolved this matter in favor of this wonderful young man and very happy that the settlement will be available to provide the appropriate care and education for the child.  Mr. de Oliveira commented: “This family sacrificed so much to make sure that their son received the services that he needed in order to succeed.  They epitomize the meaning of ‘unconditional love.’  We are honored to have contributed to secure a better future for this wonderful young man.”

The Plaintiff, Robert F. and April F. as Guardians Ad Litem of G. F. were represented by Carlo A. C. de Oliveira and James D. Linnan of the Cooper, Erving & Savage law firm of Albany NY.  The proceeds of the settlement will be structured to provide for the care and education of the child over his lifetime.  The student and his family have moved out of the district and are now receiving excellent cooperation from the boy’s school in another state, according to their attorneys.


Robert F., et al. v North Syracuse Central School District, et al., 5:18-CV-00594 (N.D.N.Y.) (MAD/ATB).

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