Open Door School lawsuit won’t go to court

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 4, 2010

CHESAPEAKE — A lawsuit filed last spring against the Open Door School in Ironton by a Chesapeake parent will be settled out of court.

“The matter is settled. I am not permitted to tell you the terms,” according to Kenneth Myers, the Cleveland-based attorney representing Donna Hundley.

In June Hundley, formerly of 115 Township Road 287, sought damages from the Lawrence County Board of Mental Retardation through a federal lawsuit she filed for her minor son. DD superintendent Paul Mollett, Open Door principal Kendra Kelley, speech therapist Daniel Honaker and teachers, Vanessa Honaker, Glenda Deering and Carrie Blevins, were named in the suit.

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Hundley’s son is a 12-year-old diagnosed with autism, cerebral palsy and ADHD and suffers from medical conditions including chronic migraine headaches, sleep disorder and spasticity in his limbs.

Hundley had sought an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, plus a jury trial. However, a docket entry on the federal district court Website states that the parties report the matter to be settled, pending the approval of probate court. A status teleconference is scheduled before Judge Michael R. Barrett of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio for April 28.

Hundley’s complaints revolved around a variety of alleged experiences involving her son, after the child’s home district of Chesapeake and the DD district evaluated the boy. That testing determined he had an IQ of 41 or was at the low end of the moderate range for mental retardation, the complaint stated.

After that determination, the child was placed in the Open Door School.

The plaintiff alleged that meetings held at Open Door concerning her son were in violation of the Individuals with Disability Education Act since all members of the team were not present; that her child wasn’t given a choice of schools; and that Hundley had not been told of her rights under the disability act.

The complaint also alleged that the school during 2006 and 2007 “had no reading curriculum that was geared to autistic children … had no reading curriculum at all … One teacher bought copies of Dick and Jane books at a rummage sale and brought those books in to teach the children to read.”

The lawsuit resulted after the child, who had a history of disrobing on and off the school bus, had allegedly come off the bus naked when he arrived at home. After that incident, the mother sought legal counsel.

Terms of the settlement were not stated on the Web site. Mollett referred comment to the DD district’s attorney Nicole Donovsky of Means, Bichimer, Burkholder and Baker of Columbus. She did not returned phone calls by press time.

Myers said the parties agreed to settle last month.

“I think everybody is happy that it is over with,” he said.