Judge rules dying Whitehall student will stay in her school

Judge sides with dying student

WHITEHALL, MICH. - A special needs student who attends Ealy Elementary in Whitehall will not have to transfer to a new school in the city of Muskegon. 

A judge's order will keep 10-year old Anna Bernhardt at her home school, in her home district.

According to Bernhardt's attorney Myra Dutton the administrative law judge's decision was released last week following a four-day due process hearing held in early September.

►Previous: Dying Whitehall student wants to stay in her school, district wants to move her

Anna has a rare and terminal illness called Sanfilippo Syndrome. Earlier this year the Whitehall School District was seeking to place Anna at Wesley School in the city of Muskegon. That school is a centralized special education facility operated by the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.  

Anna's parents Justina and Lance Bernhardt asked a judge to decide what school their daughter should attend.

Attorney Dutton says the school district has been ordered to develop a new individualized education plan for Anna. 

"It should be noted that the administrative law judge found that the district did not make any procedural violation during this process," said Jerry McDowell, Whitehall School Superintendent.

McDowell says the judge found Wesley School offered "no programming or placement benefit," for Anna.  

McDowell went on to say he's "thankful a process exists to assist when two parties disagree on difficult decisions such as this."

"We will continue to advocate for placements for students in our system that provide a safe, nurturing environment where all students are able to make educational progress to their maximum potential and thereby make a meaningful contribution to our community," McDowell said.

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