A family in Highlands Ranch has won a lawsuit against the Douglas County School District.
They accused the district of not providing an adequate education for their child, who has autism.
The ruling means the district will have to reimburse all the money the family spent for private school -- unless they appeal.
The family's lawyer says the family could get a reimbursement of seven figures.
Jennifer, the child's mother, says this is about much more than the money. She hopes their story empowers other parents with special needs students.
The lawsuit was filed back in 2010. Jennifer, who asked us not to use her last name, noticed her son was lashing out at a Douglas County Elementary School.
He was screaming and tearing his clothes off. She felt like they weren't doing enough to help her child, Endrew.
"As a parent of a child with autism, you know there’s going to be struggles and challenges," Jennifer said, "but I didn't realize how good it could be until he got into the right environment and until he got the right type of therapy… we were struggling for so long, why?”
After he walked away from campus one day, she moved her son to a private school.
She says everything changed after that. He's now a senior at Firefly Autism and doing much better.
Endrew was pulled out of public school toward the end of fourth grade. He started at Firefly right after that. Tuition for that school is upwards of $70,000 a year.
By law, a public school is supposed to provide a free adequate education to special needs students. Jennifer sued and after several appeals, she prevailed.
"I think it’s also empowering for parents to know that the law is a little more on their side now," she said.
The family plans to keep Endrew at Firefly until he turns 21.
“Maybe another parent whose child is in a similar situation won’t have to fight as hard as we did," Jennifer said. "That’s been our goal and I think, I hope, that’s what we accomplished.”
In a statement to 9NEWS, DCSD wrote:
"We are in the process of assessing the ruling, along with next steps. Regardless of today’s outcome, DCSD will continue to support the learning and well-being of every student, thanks to our dedicated professionals who work with our 68,000 students on a daily basis."
- Paula Hans, DCSD Public Information Officer