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

Archive for March, 2014

School’s recommended IEP inappropriate where it focused on student’s physical disability, while his autism presented more significant educational impact

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

F.O. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 51 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court overturned the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision denying parents reimbursement for a unilateral placement for their child with autism, global developmental delays, and myasthenia gravis.  The school recommended an IEP which focused on addressing the student’s myasthenia gravis, a condition impacting his speech and writing.  However, the evidence in the underlying impartial hearing demonstrated that the student’s autism spectrum disorder had a much greater educational impact.  Therefore, the student’s autism, and not his physical disability, should have been the focus of his IEP.  Accordingly, the Court overturned the SRO and awarded the parents tuition reimbursement.

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Parent’s participation in IEP process balances equities in her favor

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

A.R. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 12 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court overturned the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision denying a parent reimbursement for a unilateral placement because she failed to participate in the IEP process.

There was no dispute that the school district failed to provide a free appropriate public education, and the Court relied on the SRO’s determination that the unilateral placement was appropriate for the student with learning disabilities and a speech and language impairment.  The SRO, however, in balancing the equitable considerations gave weight to the parent’s signing of a contract with the unilateral placement referencing the parent’s pursuit of due process rights as a source of payment of tuition.  The SRO thus denied reimbursement, since the equities favored the district.  The Court overturned the SRO, however, noting that the parent participated in the IEP process, visited the proposed public placement, and the enrollment contract gave the parent the ability to withdraw from the private program without financial penalty in the event an appropriate public placement was offered.  Accordingly, the Court awarded the parent reimbursement.

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School’s failure to modify generic goals denies FAPE

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Jefferson County Board of Education v. Lolita S., 62 IDELR 2 (N.D. Ala. 2013): A federal district court found a school district’s failure to modify generic goals for a student with a learning disability.  The student had identified needs in the areas of reading and transition, however, when the school developed the student’s IEP the draft IEP included generic goals relating to a student in that particular grade level.  The school failed to modify, as appropriate, the generic goals to reflect the unique needs of the individual student in question.  Accordingly, the goals were not appropriate, ultimately denying the student a free appropriate public education.

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Failure to include specific standard on IEP goals does not deny FAPE

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

A.M. v. New York City Department of Education, 61 IDELR 214 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court upheld the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision that a school district’s failure to identify specific measurement standards for a student’s IEP goals did not deny a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The student, who had diagnoses of an intellectual disability, expressive language disorder, auditory processing disorder, and fine and gross motor and graphomotor deficiencies, had a number of goals and short term objectives on her IEP.  Some of those goals and objectives carried over from one year to the next (and, in at least one instance, were identical notwithstanding that the student had achieved the objective), while others did not include the specific measurement standard by which the student’s progress toward the goal would be analyzed.  The SRO found, however, that failing to include specific measurement standards is not sufficiently serious enough to constitute a denial of FAPE.  The district court agreed, upholding the SRO.

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