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Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Archive for September, 2012

Failure to reschedule an IEP team meeting denied student a FAPE.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

J.T. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 59 IDELR 4 (D. Hawaii 2012):  A U.S. District Court held a school district denied a student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to reschedule an IEP team meeting at the parent’s request, notwithstanding that the parent participated in subsequent IEP team meetings during that school year.

The district scheduled an IEP team meeting on a specific date in order to adhere to its own internal deadlines regarding completion of annual reviews.  However, the parent was unable to attend on that specific date and requested the meeting be rescheduled a few days later.  The district convened the meeting in the parent’s absence to fulfill its deadline, and developed an IEP with goals and objectives identical to previous IEPs.  Although the IEP team met again later in the school year, the parent was not afforded sufficient opportunity to contribute.  Accordingly, the two meetings together amounted to a failure to offer the parent the opportunity for meaningful participation.  Such failure rises to the level of a denial of FAPE and the Court therefore determined the student should be awarded compensatory education.

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District must conduct medical evaluation if necessary to evaluate all areas of suspected disability.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

M.J.C. v. Special School District No. 1, 58 IDELR 288 (D. Minn. 2012):  A federal district court held that a school district violated the IDEA’s child-find mandate by requiring a parent to obtain a private diagnosis of ADHD before the district would classify the student as other health impaired.

Due to miscommunication, the parent resisted attempts to classify the student with an emotional or behavioral disorder.  Despite such resistance, the parent routinely provided consent for the district to complete evaluations.  However, it was not until the parent finally obtained a medical diagnosis of ADHD that the district classified the student as one with a disability.  The Court deemed the district’s failure to conduct any medical evaluation necessary to determine the student’s possible ADHD violated its child find obligation.  As a result of the district’s failure to complete the necessary assessments, the student’s behavioral issues increased.  Accordingly, by the time the student was classified, he required a greater intensity of services than may have been necessary had the district completed its evaluation.  Therefore, the district denied the student a free appropriate public education.

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IEP team must convene to develop interim program for transfer student.

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Letter to Finch, 59 IDELR 15 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs informed a special education director that when a school district determines the interim program for a transfer student, such interim program must be developed by the IEP team and include the federally mandated members.  However, the parent may consent to the absence of any mandatory member, and may similarly agree to make changes in writing as opposed to convening a meeting.

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Prior written notice and consent required for an FBA assessing student’s specific needs.

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Letter to Anonymous, 59 IDELR 14 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs noted that prior written notice (PWN) and parent consent is required if a school district is conducting a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to assess the behavioral needs of a specific student.  Only if the FBA is “intended to assess the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in the school as a whole” will the district be excused from issuing a PWN and obtaining parental consent.

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Federal regulations include school breaks in evaluation timelines.

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Letter to Reyes, 59 IDELR 49 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs informed a special education director that the timelines to complete evaluations under the IDEA typically include school breaks.  The federal regulations define a day as a calendar day, unless a timeline specifically identifies “business” days or “school” days.  Accordingly, under federal regulations, evaluation timelines run during school breaks, such as summer vacation.

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District must provide prior written notice for any change or refusal to change the placement of a student with a disability.

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Letter to Chandler, 59 IDELR 110 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) informed a disability service professional that prior written notices (PWNs) must issue whenever a district recommends a change in a student’s placement, or refuses to make a change.  OSEP noted that the fact the change or refusal may have been discussed at an IEP team meeting does not eliminate a district’s obligation to provide a PWN.  The PWN must be provided to the parents to allow a reasonable period of time to consider the change, and respond before such change is implemented, if necessary.

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Parents must provide schools a reasonable opportunity to respond to record requests.

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Letter to Anonymous, 111 LRP 67052 (FPCO 2011):  The Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) notified a parent that, notwithstanding the requirement that a school district provide the parent an opportunity to review the educational records of her child within forty-five (45) days of her request, the parent must address the district’s response within a reasonable timeframe.  Here, the parent requested to review her child’s records in January, and the 45 day timeline expired on March 15.  Despite multiple responses from the district attempting to arrange a time for her review, the parent failed to respond to the district until March 11.  The FPCO determined that the parent’s affording the district such a narrow window of opportunity (two days) was unreasonable, and therefore the district did not violate FERPA.

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Regulations properly excluded cochlear implant mapping as a related service under the IDEA.

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Petit v. U.S. Department of Education, 58 IDELR 241 (D.C. Cir. 2012):  A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s determination that the regulations adopted pursuant to the reauthorization of the IDEA in 2004 validly excluded cochlear implant mapping as a “related service” under the IDEA.

Cochlear implant mapping was specifically excluded as an assistive technology service after the reauthorization, but parents of students with cochlear implants sought to overturn the regulation’s exclusion.  The parents argued that mapping was a valid “related service” under the auspices of “audiology services.”  The Court found, however, that the term “audiology services,” as listed in the IDEA, does not unambiguously include mapping.  Therefore, excluding mapping of a cochlear implant as a related service was a valid interpretation of the IDEA and the regulation was upheld.

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