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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Archive for December, 2013

Class action certified for challenge to district-wide policy delaying related services

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

R.A-G. v. Buffalo City School District., 61 IDELR 164 (W.D.N.Y. 2013): The parent of a child whose IEP provides for speech and language therapy challenged a district-wide policy or practice regarding the provision of related services.  The school district has a practice of delaying the commencement of related services until the third week of each school year, and implemented such practice with respect to nearly every student receiving related services.  The parent alleged this practice, which denies parents meaningful participation in the decision making process, and denies individualized determinations of IEPs, thereby denies children a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  A federal district court permitted the lawsuit to proceed as a class action.

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ADA presents different compliance responsibilities than the IDEA

Monday, December 9th, 2013

K.M. v. Tustin Unified School District, 61 IDELR 182 (9th Cir. 2013): A federal Court of Appeals held that a school district’s responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are, in certain instances, separate and distinct.

The plaintiffs were two students with hearing loss who received services under the auspices of an Individual Education Program (IEP).  Both students requested but were denied realtime transcription services for their academic programs, on the rationale that their IEPs provided them with sufficient educational benefit.  The lower court dismissed the students’ ADA claims, considering them coextensive with their IDEA claims.

The Court of Appeals overturned the lower court, noting that ADA regulations can impose separate and distinct compliance obligations when compared to the IDEA (and Section 504) free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements.  Specifically, the ADA establishes certain communication standards each public agency must meet to ensure “equal opportunity” for communication.  Such a standard may be over and above, and distinct from, that which is required by the IDEA.  Accordingly, the Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s finding that the students’ ADA claims were precluded by finding no denial of FAPE.

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Reimbursement denied where student was capable of being educated in general setting with special education aids, services, and accommodations

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

J.C.S. v. Blind Brook-Rye Union Free School District, 61 IDELR 219 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court denied a parent’s request for reimbursement for a unilateral placement, confirming the conclusion of the New York State Review Officer (SRO).

The parent sought reimbursement for a private program in which she unilaterally enrolled her son with ADHD and learning disabilities.  Notwithstanding the parent’s placement, the school district’s IEP team met and recommended a program in a general education setting with a wide array of various special education and related services, as well as supplementary aids and services and accommodations.  The parent argued that the volume of aids, services, and accommodations indicated that the general education setting was inappropriate.  However, the strength of the student’s academic skills led the SRO to conclude that the general education setting was appropriate in terms of restrictiveness and therefore the school did not deny the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Accordingly, reimbursement was denied.  The district court agreed, and upheld the SRO’s decision.

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