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Posts Tagged ‘autism spectrum disorder’

School district violates least restrictive environment requirement when it fails to fully consider an integrated setting for a student with an autism spectrum disorder.

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

N.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free School District, 55 IDELR 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court overturned the New York State Review Officer in relation to a child with an autism spectrum disorder who the school district sought to place in a self-contained out-of-district program.  The student’s parents argued that the student needed to be with her non-disabled peers, which required placement in an integrated class.

The student, while in preschool, attended a program that was essentially integrated since the preschool chosen by the school district ultimately included four non-disabled children in its program.  However, the student’s parents removed her from that program due to the school district’s failure to provide the 1:1 aide the student needed.  The parents placed the student in a private, integrated preschool program, paid for a 1:1 aide, and the student made significant progress.

The school district recommended a self-contained out-of-district BOCES program following preschool, where the student would have little interaction with her non-disabled peers.  The parents argued that the student required interaction with non-disabled peers, since she modeled the behavior she observed and it was crucial to her development.  Several experts supported the parents.  The district relied on the student’s standardized testing to argue she required the self-contained class to reduce distractions.  The recommendation included “boilerplate” and “conclusory” language about rejecting an integrated class.

The Court found that the school district did not properly review the student’s ability to participate in an integrated class with supports (here, a 1:1 aide).  As a result, it violated the least restrictive environment requirement and its proposed IEP was inappropriate.  Since the private placement chosen by the parents was appropriate, they were entitled to reimbursement (although reimbursement was to be reduced in part due to the parents’ failure to timely notify the district of their intention to remove the student and place her privately).

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