Jose Garcia

School’s failure to teach hearing impaired results in $1 million for student

Jose Garcia is finally set to graduate after a victorious legal battle with Grandview School District,  He was awarded $1 million after the court decided the his school had neglected to address his hearing disability. (Photo: Yakima Herald)

Jose Garcia is finally set to graduate after a victorious legal battle with Grandview School District, He was awarded $1 million after the court decided the his school had neglected to address his hearing disability. (Photo: Yakima Herald)

Born with a severe hearing disability, Jose Garcia and his family thought he would graduate in 2010 with the rest of his class from Grandview High School. But that year, when his mother, Maria, thought he was going to graduate, the ugly truth reared its head: Grandview School District had neglected to address his hearing problem. Instead, the district left him in a special needs class, so that 17 year old Jose was reading at a second-grade level and had the math skills of a third-grader. Without any warning, he was deemed unready to receive his high school diploma. 

The case began in 2010, when Garcia’s mother learned that her son would not graduate with the other 17 year old students at his school. She filed a complaint with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction against the school district, and the matter was referred to an administrative law judge. The judge, Matthew Wacker of Seattle, ruled in favor of Garcia, ordering the district to provide him with six years of private education after finding that the district had given Garcia work below his grade level rather than adequately addressing his hearing problem. The ruling included a $1,000,000 verdict for Jose.

The district appealed Wacker’s decision in Yakima County Superior Court, where Judge Robert Lawrence-Berry mostly upheld the ruling, but reduced from six to four the number of years the district would have to provide Garcia with private education.

Four years later, Jose is set to graduate at age 22. He now plans to get a technical degree to work as an electrician.

SKW attorney and partner, Karen Koehler, and Richland, WA attorney Kerri Feeney represented Jose Garcia against the school district.

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