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Posts Tagged ‘central auditory processing disorder’

Parents denied reimbursement (but entitled to compensatory education) where district had denied FAPE, but offered an appropriate IEP prior to parents’ unilateral placement.

Monday, February 18th, 2013

I.T. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 59 IDELR 129 (D. Hawaii 2012):  A federal district court denied a parents’ request for tuition reimbursement for a unilateral placement, where the district had denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to provide timely speech and language therapy, but ultimately did offer speech services prior to the parents’ unilateral placement.

The court concluded that the district failed to evaluate the student in all areas of suspected disability by not evaluating him for a potential central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).  The district’s prior written notice for the student’s IEP team meeting indicated that, once it received information from the student’s private doctor, the district would amend the student’s IEP to start language services.  Even though the student ultimately was not diagnosed with CAPD, there was no dispute that he required speech and language services.  Accordingly, the district’s failure to provide such services denied the student a FAPE.

As a result of the student’s inadequate progress, in their view, the parents unilaterally placed him in a private program.  However, by the time they made their unilateral placement, the IEP team had already met on multiple occasions and amended the student’s IEP to include speech and language services and goals (the IEP’s only deficiencies).  Accordingly, the court denied the parents’ request for reimbursement, instead finding that the student was only entitled to compensatory education for the speech and language services he did not receive.

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Change in disability classification does not require change in services if the student’s needs remain substantially the same.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Hailey M. v. Matayoshi, 57 IDELR 124 (D. Hawaii 2011): A U.S. District Court held that a subsequent change in a student’s disability classification does not require a corresponding change in the nature of the services provided to the student. The student was initially diagnosed as mentally retarded in 1999, but after private evaluations obtained by the student’s parent, her classification was changed to specific learning disability. Thereafter, the program recommended by the school district was a continuation of the student’s placement in a special education class with extended school year services, despite the parent’s request for a general education classroom.

The Court determined that the district continuously offered IEPs based on the student’s unique educational needs, regardless of her disability classification. Specifically, the student’s special education teacher testified that, notwithstanding the change in disability classification, the student’s educational needs did not change significantly. As a result, the district offered the student a free appropriate public education and the parent thus was not entitled to reimbursement for the services she obtained from private providers to address the student’s specific learning disabilities.

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School district may not cure deficient evaluation to avoid paying for an IEE.

Monday, August 29th, 2011

M.Z. v. Bethlehem Area School District, 57 IDELR 5 (E.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court determined that a state hearing officer erred when she ordered a school district to simply update an inappropriate evaluation rather than ordering a new and complete evaluation.

The parents of a student with a central auditory processing disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (on the autism spectrum) requested an independent educational evaluation (IEE) as a result of the district’s failure to conduct an appropriate evaluation of the student.  The district, instead of paying for the IEE, filed a due process complaint claiming that its evaluation was appropriate.  The hearing officer found the district’s evaluation was inappropriate, but nevertheless decided not to require a full IEE because the parent “did not really take issue with the accuracy of the test results” of the district.  Instead, the hearing officer ordered the district to cure its inappropriate evaluation by including a classroom observation and input from the student’s teachers and parents.

The Court, agreeing that the evaluation was inappropriate, overturned the hearing officer’s order, noting that the federal regulations do not require specific arguments or disagreements with an evaluation for a parent to become entitled to a publicly funded IEE.  The regulations simply require that the district’s evaluation be inappropriate.  Since the district’s evaluation for this student was inappropriate, the parents were entitled to an IEE at public expense.

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School district’s failure to offer a public placement excused parent from obligation to provide notice of unilateral placement.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

C.Z. v. New York City Department of Education, 54 IDELR 223 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court held that parents are not obligated to provide notice of a unilateral private placement when the school district never even recommended a public placement.  As a result, the student’s parents were entitled to partial reimbursement for her unilateral placement at a private school.

The student, who was diagnosed with a speech impairment and central auditory processing disorder, attended a private school offering a language based program from second grade through fifth grade (when she aged out).  The program provided a nurturing environment with a teacher and an aide in classes of eight to ten students.  The student also received related services, including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

Since the student was aging out, her parents enrolled her in a different private school due to their concern that the school district would not offer an appropriate program.  Despite such enrollment, the parents purchased “tuition insurance” in the event they removed the student from the private school.  The Court also noted that the parents cooperated with the school district, and participated in the IEP process in good faith.  Despite such participation, the school district never made a final offer of a recommended placement.  As a result, the student attended the private school in which she had been enrolled and the parents never provided written notice of their intention to make a unilateral placement.

The Court determined that since the district never formally offered a placement (which failure the district conceded denied the student a FAPE), the parents were not expected to provide notice under the IDEA, rejecting a placement that was never offered.  Consequently, equitable considerations (including the parents’ cooperation and their reasons for not providing written notice) did not relieve the school’s obligation to reimburse them for the private placement.  However, since the regular education component of the private school did not meet the student’s unique needs, the parents were only reimbursed for the tuition relating to the private school’s support program, conducted by a special education teacher.

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Student’s overall ability and progress, not just the student’s performance on standardized testing, are taken into account when determining the appropriateness of an IEP.

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Jaccari J. v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, District No. 299, 54 IDELR 53 (N.D. Ill. 2010):  A U.S. District Court rejected a parent’s argument that standardized test scores for her son, who was diagnosed with a learning disability, speech impairment, emotional disability, central auditory processing disorder, and a mild cognitive impairment, demonstrate his lack of progress under his IEP.  Noting that “other indicators suggest that [the student] is making progress,” the Court stated that his “failure to increase his standardized test scores is not dispositive in determining whether he made progress.”

The parent emphasized that the student’s performance in several specific areas failed to improve on several standardized tests over the course of two years.  However, the Court gave weight to other evaluations indicating that the student’s cognitive ability was low.  Therefore, his scores on standardized tests were not reliable enough, in and of themselves, to show his program did not provide an educational benefit.  Instead, the Court gave weight to other evidence indicating the student met his language arts benchmark, nearly met his math goal, and made significant progress behaviorally.  These demonstrated progress, meaning the school district offered a FAPE.

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