Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher
70 Niagara Street, Suite 200 Buffalo , New York, 14202
Phone: 716-362-1533
Fax: 716-362-1534

The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Autism’

SRO’s delay excuses exhaustion requirement

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

M.G. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 195 (S.D.N.Y. 2014): A federal district court waived the exhaustion requirement for the parents of a student with autism due to the State Review Officer’s (SRO) failure to render a decision in a timely manner.  The parents, aggrieved by certain findings in the decision of the impartial hearing officer (IHO) in their underlying hearing, appealed to the SRO.  However, more than six months passed following the parties’ final submissions and yet the SRO had failed to render any decision.  Accordingly, the court, relying on the excessive administrative delay, waived the parents’ requirement to exhaust through the SRO before initiating a court action.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on SRO’s delay excuses exhaustion requirement

Cost of IEE includes presentation to IEP team

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Meridian Joint School District, No. 2 v. D.A., 62 IDELR 144 (D. Idaho 2014): A federal district court awarded a parent of a student on the autism spectrum reimbursement for an independent educational evaluation (IEE), with such reimbursement to include the private evaluator’s presentation of her findings to the IEP team.  Noting that the parents’ “right to an IEE, let alone their right to participate in decisions on the educational placement” of their son “would mean little if they were left to challenge the District’s experts with a partial assessment or ‘without an expert with the firepower to match the opposition’”, the Court awarded the parents reimbursement for the expenses incurred by the private evaluator in presenting her evaluation to the IEP team.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Cost of IEE includes presentation to IEP team

School’s use of evidence relating to specific methodology allowed parent to challenge appropriateness of that methodology

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Y.S. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 56 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): The New York State Review Officer (SRO) denied the parent’s request for reimbursement, refusing to consider the parents’ evidence regarding the appropriate methodology to teach their child on the autism spectrum since the parents failed to identify that specific issue in their due process complaint (moreover, the selection of a specific methodology is typically within the purview of the school).  However, a federal district court remanded a matter to the SRO with instructions to review additional arguments.  The Court noted that the school district, through its submission of evidence relating to the methodology the district selected, opened the door for the parents to submit their own evidence as a rebuttal to the district’s.  Accordingly, the SRO’s failure to consider the parents’ evidence and arguments regarding methodology was improper and required remand for such consideration.

Tags: ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School’s use of evidence relating to specific methodology allowed parent to challenge appropriateness of that methodology

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.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School’s recommended IEP inappropriate where it focused on student’s physical disability, while his autism presented more significant educational impact

Parent entitled to reimbursement where school’s proposed placement is too restrictive

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Deer Valley Unified School District v. L.P., 61 IDELR 48 (D. Ariz. 2013): A federal district court awarded reimbursement to the parent of a student with high functioning autism.  The student had an identified need in socializing and communication.

The school prepared an IEP recommending a “special school,” without identifying which specific school the student would attend.  The school district ultimately recommended a specific program in which all the children with autism were non-verbal, and functioning at a lower level than the student.  The evidence showed such a program would not meet the student’s socialization and communication needs, particular since the IEP offered no interaction with non-disabled peers outside of the classroom.  Similarly, although the school district argued that non-disabled peers could push-in to the classroom, the court deemed such an arrangement unsatisfactory in light of the student’s IEP.  Accordingly, the court determined the school district denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Since the parent unilaterally placed the student in a private school that addressed his socialization and communication needs, she was entitled to reimbursement.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Parent entitled to reimbursement where school’s proposed placement is too restrictive

District could not rely on retrospective testimony to show that IEP offered FAPE to student with Autism

Monday, August 19th, 2013

P.K. and T.K. ex rel. S.K. v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ., 61 IDELR 96 (2d Cir. 2013)—in this case, the parents appealed the State Review Officer’s (“SRO”)’s decision that a student with Autism was offered a FAPE. The SRO (relying on the classroom teacher’s testimony about the services she would have provided) concluded that the student would have received sufficient speech and language therapy, though the IEP itself did not specify an adequate amount of speech and language therapy. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to allow retrospective testimony about the individual instruction that would be available in the proposed placement, because that information was not written on the IEP. The court found that the IEP was insufficient by only listing group speech and language therapy, and lacking the 1:1 speech language instruction required by law. Thus, the court reversed the SRO and ordered the parents to be reimbursed for their unilateral private placement. Note: the district court decision at 57 IDELR 139 was posted on this blog on November 4, 2011.

Note: per court order, this decision has not been released for publication in official or permanent law reports.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on District could not rely on retrospective testimony to show that IEP offered FAPE to student with Autism

District’s failure to reschedule IEP meeting for sick parent resulted in a denial of FAPE

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Doug C. v. State of Haw. Dep’t of Educ., 61 IDELR 91 (9th Cir. 2013)—in this case, the parent appealed the district’s court judgment that his son with Autism was not denied FAPE when the district held his annual IEP meeting without the parent. The Federal Circuit Court found that this procedural violation amounted to a denial of FAPE, because the district violated IDEA’s critical requirements for parental participation. The parent did not refuse to attend, but asked to reschedule on the morning of the annual review meeting, due to illness. The parent wanted to be physically present at the meeting, and did not accept the district’s suggestions of participating by phone or internet. At the meeting, the child’s placement was changed to his local public school and the parent decided to keep the student at his prior private placement, at his own expense. It was not acceptable for the district to go forward with the meeting without the parent, simply to meet the annual review date deadline, because special education services wouldn’t magically cease if the annual IEP review was overdue. Also, it was not appropriate to give priority to the schedules of other CSE members, because the parent could consent to the absence of other members of the CSE. The 9th Circuit reversed the lower court decision and held that the district denied the student a FAPE because the procedural violation denied an educational opportunity (for the merits of his current placement to be properly considered). Thus, the parent was permitted to seek reimbursement if he could establish that the private school placement was appropriate.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on District’s failure to reschedule IEP meeting for sick parent resulted in a denial of FAPE

Parent entitled to reimbursement where school’s proposed placement is too restrictive

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Deer Valley Unified School District v. L.P., 61 IDELR 48 (D. Ariz. 2013): A federal district court awarded reimbursement to the parent of a student with high functioning autism.  The student had an identified need in socializing and communication.

The school prepared an IEP recommending a “special school,” without identifying which specific school the student would attend.  The school district ultimately recommended a specific program in which all the children with autism were non-verbal, and functioning at a lower level than the student.  The evidence showed such a program would not meet the student’s socialization and communication needs, particular since the IEP offered no interaction with non-disabled peers outside of the classroom.  Similarly, although the school district argued that non-disabled peers could push-in to the classroom, the court deemed such an arrangement unsatisfactory in light of the student’s IEP.  Accordingly, the court determined the school district denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Since the parent unilaterally placed the student in a private school that addressed his socialization and communication needs, she was entitled to reimbursement.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Parent entitled to reimbursement where school’s proposed placement is too restrictive

Failure to offer seafood-free environment entitles parent to reimbursement

Monday, July 29th, 2013

D.C. v. New York City Department of Education, 61 IDELR 25 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court awarded reimbursement to the parent of a student with a pervasive developmental disorder, mild mental retardation, and a severe language disorder.  The student also had a seafood allergy.

The school prepared an IEP recommending a seafood-free environment to ensure the student’s safety.  However, when the parent toured the recommended school she was informed that it was not seafood-free.  Due to the severity of the student’s seafood allergy, the student’s mother continued his enrollment in a private program that accommodated the allergy with a seafood-free environment.  Notwithstanding the school’s assertions that it would have accommodated the student’s needs, the court followed guidance from the Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that retrospective testimony is impermissible.  Accordingly, the district court here held that the school could not retroactively demonstrate its ability, and willingness, to render the school seafood-free.  Instead, the court must determine the parent’s entitlement to reimbursement based on what she understood the recommended placement to be at the time of its recommendation.  Through that lens, the parent here was entitled to reimbursement.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Failure to offer seafood-free environment entitles parent to reimbursement

School district’s failure to discuss natural setting at IEP team meeting gives parent claim for damages

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Luo v. Baldwin Union Free School District, 60 IDELR 281 (E.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court allowed a parent of a student with an autism spectrum disorder to pursue claims for damages based on IDEA violations.  The parent claimed that he had requested his son be placed in a “natural setting environment,” but that the student’s IEP team failed to discuss or present any information about such a possibility.  The parent further alleged that he was unable to pursue his grievances through an impartial hearing due, in part, to malfeasance by school district officials.  The Court (following precedent within that Circuit) allowed the parent to assert claims for damages, brought under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, to proceed based on allegations of procedural violations of the IDEA.  The Court did note, however, that it was construing the parent’s allegations liberally at this particular stage in the proceedings.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district’s failure to discuss natural setting at IEP team meeting gives parent claim for damages

Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS).