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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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Student’s inability to begin classes due to admission to a psychiatric hospital triggered a school district’s child find obligations.

Regional School District No. 9 Board of Education v. Mr. and Mrs. M., 53 IDELR 8 (D. Conn. 2009): Noting that “the standard for triggering the Child Find duty is suspicion of a disability, rather than factual knowledge of a qualifying disability[,]” a federal district court found that a school district should have begun an evaluation for special education once it was informed that a student with clinical depression would not start school on time due to admission to a psychiatric hospital.

Once the school district had notice that the student’s psychiatric condition interfered with her ability to engage in academics, the district should have evaluated the student within a reasonable period of time.  Although the parents, residents of Connecticut, placed the student in an intensive therapeutic educational program in Utah, the hearing officer found that the school district was on notice to begin an evaluation once the student’s mother informed the district that the student was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  The district court agreed with the parents, and also agreed that the student was eligible for special education as a student with an emotional disturbance.

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