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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘behavioral issues’

Reimbursement denied where unilateral placement failed to address student’s needs

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

M.W. v. Board of Education of the Enlarged City School District of Middletown, N.Y., 61 IDELR 140 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court upheld the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision that a parent of a student with a learning disability and behavioral problems was not entitled to reimbursement.

The parent withdrew the student from the residential program at which the school district assigned her, and unilaterally placed the student at a different residential program.  Following the unilateral placement, the parent filed a due process complaint alleging a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and sought reimbursement.  The impartial hearing officer (IHO) agreed with the parent that the child was denied a FAPE and that the unilateral program was appropriate.  The SRO, however, overruled the IHO in part, noting that the parent’s unilateral withdrawal contributed in part to the student’s failure to receive a FAPE.  More significantly, regardless of any FAPE denial, the SRO further overruled the IHO regarding the appropriateness of the unilateral program.  After reviewing the hearing record, the SRO found insufficient evidence to support the IHO’s conclusion that the unilateral program was appropriate, as such program failed to include a sufficient level of special education and related services to meet the student’s needs (both academically and behaviorally).  Accordingly, reimbursement was denied.  The district court upheld the SRO’s conclusions.

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Manifestation review required for child presumed to be disabled due to pattern of behavior

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Anaheim Union High School District v. J.E., 61 IDELR 107 (C.D. Cal. 2013): A federal district court determined that a school district should have conducted a manifestation determination review for a student not classified under the IDEA.  The district had suspended the student and removed him to a community day school following a disciplinary incident.

The student had ADHD and anxiety, and manifested several behavioral issues in school (including irritability, agitation, and panic attacks).  The school was aware of these issues, and identified the student as a student with a disability pursuant to Section 504 (but not IDEA).  Nevertheless, the Court found that the school should have conducted a manifestation determination review.  The child was presumed to be disabled under the IDEA (and entitled to its protections) because the school had a basis of knowledge to believe the student’s pattern of behavior related to his disability.  Significantly, the court determined that a “pattern of behavior” giving rise to a presumption of disability should not be limited to previous disciplinary issues.

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Student needs more restrictive placement due to his behavioral issues, despite his high academic functioning.

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

J.P. v. New York City Department of Education, 58 IDELR 96 (E.D.N.Y. 2012):  A U.S. District Court affirmed the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) determination that the school district offered a free appropriate public education to a student with an emotional disability.  Notwithstanding the student’s high level of academic functioning, he required a more restrictive placement.  Specifically, the student exhibited several behaviors that interfered with his ability to learn and disrupted the learning environment for his classmates.

The SRO overturned a ruling by an impartial hearing officer (IHO) awarding the parents reimbursement for their unilateral placement.  The parents placed the student in a private program which allowed the student to progress in a general education setting.  However, based on the information available at the CSE meeting, the CSE recommended a 12:1:1 classroom in order to address his disruptive behaviors.  No one at the CSE meeting, including the student’s mother, requested a general education setting.  The Court gave little weight to the progress the student made in his private program, since that information was not available to the CSE.  Accordingly, the Court agreed with the SRO’s determination that, based on the information the CSE did have, its recommendation was appropriate.

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School psychologist’s narrow evaluation emphasizing academics denied student FAPE.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

G.“J.”D. v. Wisshickon School District, 56 IDELR 294 (E.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court determined that a school district denied a student a free appropriate public education because the school psychologist’s evaluation failed to give sufficient weight to the student’s behavioral issues, which were interfering with the student’s learning.

The school psychologist evaluated the student, who had a history of aggressive behaviors, a sensory/processing disorder, and ADHD, and determined that the student’s superior IQ and strong academic progress precluded him from special education services.  However, the student exhibited aggressive and problematic behaviors throughout the school year, and such behaviors escalated while he was undergoing the evaluation process.  According to the student’s teacher, his behavioral issues were significant and interfered with his learning, notwithstanding that he continued to progress academically.

The student’s parent filed a due process complaint, and the hearing officer determined the district’s evaluation inappropriate since it focused on the student’s superior IQ and academic progress to the exclusion of his behavior problems.  The hearing officer also determined the student educationally disabled, entitled to a FAPE, and entitled to compensatory education for the period in which the school district should have found him eligible.  The Court upheld the hearing officer’s determination, noting the school district “had an obligation to look beyond” the student’s cognitive potential or academic progress and address his behavioral issues.

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Student’s escalating behavioral issues triggered need for manifestation determination, despite fact that she was not classified with a disability and received various interventions.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Jackson v. Northwest Local School District, 55 IDELR 71, adopted at 55 IDELR 104 (S.D. Ohio 2010):  A school district has a duty to perform a manifestation determination for a student with escalating behavioral issues, who was not yet classified as a student with a disability under IDEA or 504, but who should have been suspected of having a disability.

In this case, the student received various behavior interventions as part of a response to intervention (RTI) process.  Despite these interventions, the student’s behavioral issues continued to escalate, resulting in the Intervention Assessment Team meeting and recommending that she seek help from an outside mental health agency.  Nevertheless, the student was not evaluated by an IEP team and no recommendation was made regarding her eligibility for an IEP.  The student was subsequently expelled for threatening behavior, and no manifestation determination was conducted.

The Court determined that the school district was deemed to have knowledge of the student’s disability at the time she was expelled and referred to the outside mental health agency.  As a result, the school district should have conducted a manifestation determination review to see if the student’s behavior was a manifestation of her disability.  Therefore, the Court awarded the student compensatory education services for the period of her expulsion, and that such disciplinary action be expunged from her student records.

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