ROCKVILLE – The attorneys for Montgomery County Public Schools and the parents of a special-needs child offered their closing statements Friday, ending oral arguments in the seven-day court hearing at the Carver Educational Services Center.
Administrative Law Judge Marina Sabett requested the two attorneys submit written arguments by Jan. 20 regarding whether she should even rule on anything regarding medical information in the case about whether MCPS offered a free and appropriate public education for a teenager who has a large brain malformation, epilepsy and learning disabilities.
Sabett has 30 days from the completion of the trial to render a written verdict.
MCPS attorney Jeffrey Krew worked to significantly limit the scope of testimony allowed by Paul Griffin, the parent of the special-needs teenager, and Dr. James Chamberlain , the division chief of emergency medicine and trauma services at Children’s National Health System.
The MCPS attorney argued that the family’s attorney, Holly Parker, violated procedure in each case and objected repeatedly to questions Parker asked Chamberlain and Griffin.
He said he never received Chamberlain’s resume from Parker, so the judge could not qualify him as an expert witness to discuss the severity of the boy’s seizures.
Although Parker said Krew received Chamberlain’s resume, she could not produce evidence of it being sent at least five days before Chamerblain’s testimony so Krew could figure out whether he wanted to challenge the doctor’s credentials that would make him an expert in seizures.
Chamberlain said Friday he has reviewed the boy’s medical transcripts but has not directly treated him.
The judge did not allow a continuation of the case and instead allowed Chamberlain to answer only basic matter-of-fact questions.
“In reviewing [the student’s] records, did you review or see in any documents that [his] seizures were mild?” Parker asked Chamberlain.
“No,” replied Chamberlain.
“I have no further witnesses,” said Parker.
Earlier in the day, Krew argued Griffin should have testified during the “case in chief” part of the proceedings when the plaintiffs established their evidence for the hearing as they have the “burden of proof” in the case.
Parker called Griffin to testify about whether he was locked out of a restroom at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School, which Griffin said could have been problematic if his son used a restroom there and the door locked behind him.
Krew and MCPS witnesses said all the locks in the restroom were removed after a student died by suicide there in February.
During closing arguments, emotions ran high in the hearing room. Parker accused Krew of “character assassination” for his comments about Griffin and some of the plaintiff’s witnesses.
At one point, Griffin walked away from his seat when Krew accused the boy’s parents of using his seizures as a “silver bullet” to help make their case against MCPS.
Parker countered in her closing by citing a description about the severity of the boy’s seizures by his primary care physician, Dr. Dewi Frances Depositario Cabacar.
“He has a tendency to develop status epilepticus, which is more than 30 minutes,” said Parker.
Krew had accused Griffin and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Levin, of using a “double standard” when comparing the safety conditions of the Baltimore Lab School and Brooke E. Lee Middle School.
He took issue with the parents requesting a full-time nurse be available at Brooke E. Lee Middle School, noting their son had a seizure at Baltimore Lab School treated by a basketball coach trained on how to respond to the boy’s seizures by the school nurse.
The seizure occurred after the school day ended, between the time the school nurse left the building and Griffin arrived.
“But that’s fine with these parents because it’s a private school they want Montgomery County to pay for,” said Krew.