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Ruling expected next week in school hearing

Linda Hiller

The judgment in Monday’s due process hearing for the education of Zenny Alldredge should be ready by next week.

After a day of testimonies and cross-examinations, impartial hearing officer, UNR education professor Dr. Richard Dougherty, hopes to resolve the issue soon.

Representing themselves, Zen and Diana Alldredge, parents of 9-year-old Zen Jason, squared off with DCSD counsel Tom Susich and DCSD Special Services administrator Dr. John Dorf.

A court reporter traveled from Reno to make a written record, while an audio tape recording was made of the all-day proceedings.

In an exchange that was often heated, witnesses were questioned to try and ascertain whether DCSD has provided a “free and appropriate public education” for the multiply-handicapped boy.

Zenny has Coffin-Lowry syndrome, a rare genetic condition that results in myriad handicaps, including mental retardation, hearing loss, verbal limitations and several other abnormalities. Because the condition is so rare, little is known about a predictable pattern of growth and development for C-L individuals. It is known that the condition manifests itself more severely in males, however.

Zenny’s parents want him bused to Marvin Piccolo School in Reno, where he spent what they consider to be a very successful six months in pre-school from September 1993 to February 1994 before they moved to Carson City.

Zenny attended Seeliger Elementary School in Carson City from February 1994 to February 1995, when the family moved to Douglas County. Zenny finished out the 1994-1995 school year at Gardnerville Elementary School, and spent the next entire school year at GES. Last fall he moved to Minden Elementary School.

Since coming to Douglas County, the Alldredges feel their son has not progressed in the areas of communication, cognitive development, life skills and self help.

At MES, they say, Zenny had four different aides, resulting in a loss of his independence. Their call for a due process hearing was an effort to argue their case before a hearing officer in the hopes of getting him bused to Piccolo.

“A grave injustice is being done to our son,” Zen said in his opening statement.

Stating that the Alldredges seemed happy with the education their son was getting until April, 1997, Susich said that after receiving complaints from the family, teachers and district officials tried to work to improve the boy’s Individual Education Program.

“We feel we have addressed his needs,” Susich said.

Teachers – both regular classroom and special education – two of Zenny’s grandparents, Diana Alldredge, a school psychologist and an independent consultant from UNR testified and answered questions from both sides. Each side had submitted the names of 11 potential witnesses.

The Alldredges say they will consider moving back to Reno if the hearing officer decides their son should remain in Douglas County schools.