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 ‘child find’

Notice of private evaluation and frequent absences requires school district to evaluate

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Broward County (FL) School District, 61 IDELR 265 (OCR 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determined that a school district should have suspected a student as having a disability where the student was excessively absent and his teacher contributed to a private evaluation obtained by the student’s parent.  Since the teacher contributed to the parent’s private psychiatric evaluation of the student, and the student’s frequent absences related to his disability, the school had a duty to initiate its own evaluation to determine the student’s need for special education and related services.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Notice of private evaluation and frequent absences requires school district to evaluate

District violated child find by its singular focus on grade level benchmarks

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Central School District v. K.C., 61 IDELR 125 (E.D. Pa. 2013): A federal district court awarded compensatory education to a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and partial reimbursement to his parents, as a result of a school district’s failure to meet its child find obligations.

The student, despite his average to above-average intellectual abilities, struggled academically and received increasingly significant accommodations and general education supports to help him meet his grade level benchmarks.  Due in part to such accommodations and supports, the student made progress towards those grade level benchmarks which the school deemed sufficient.  The parents referred the student for a special education evaluation, but the school district delayed doing so and, when the evaluation finally occurred, found the student ineligible for special education.  After the parents, on their own, obtained an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and presented it to the district, the student was classified as a student with a disability.  The parents filed a due process complaint, and the hearing officer found that, notwithstanding the student’s progress towards grade level benchmarks, the school had sufficient basis to conduct an evaluation much earlier than it did.  Therefore, the student was entitled to compensatory education for special education he should have received sooner, and the parents received partial reimbursement for a summer program in which they unilaterally enrolled the student.  The district court upheld the hearing officer.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on District violated child find by its singular focus on grade level benchmarks

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Parents denied reimbursement (but entitled to compensatory education) where district had denied FAPE, but offered an appropriate IEP prior to parents’ unilateral placement.

Parent concerns and observations by speech therapist during evaluation require school district to evaluate for possible autism.

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Orange Unified School District v. C.K., 59 IDELR 74 (C.D. Cal. 2012):  A federal district court found for the parents of a child with autism, and determined a school district violated its child find obligation by failing to evaluate the child for suspected autism.  Due to the district’s failure to so evaluate, it was unable to develop an appropriate IEP.

The student’s parents referred him for an evaluation, and described symptoms consistent with autism (including that, as a six-year-old, he was not toilet trained, did not make eye contact, and his vocabulary consisted of a maximum of three words).  The district administered a speech and language evaluation, and the speech pathologist noticed the student’s need of frequent prompts and poor attending skills.  Due to her observations, the speech pathologist referred the student for a psychoeducational evaluation (with particular consideration of a special day class).

Despite these observations and referrals, the district failed to evaluate the student for behavioral disorders or autism.  The district developed the student’s IEP without such information, and failed to provide behavior therapy.  Although the student was subsequently diagnosed with autism, the district continued to fail to provide a sufficient level of behavior therapy.  Accordingly, the parents withdrew the student from his public placement in favor of a private program more suited to his needs.  As a result of such failures, the Court determined the student was not only entitled to reimbursement for the unilateral placement, but also entitled to compensatory education for the school’s failure to provide a FAPE while he attended his public program.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Parent concerns and observations by speech therapist during evaluation require school district to evaluate for possible autism.

Districts should evaluate students with peanut allergies for possible accommodations under Section 504.

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Virginia Beach (VA) City Public Schools, 59 IDELR 54 (OCR 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) informed a school district that it must evaluate students with peanut and/or tree nut allergies under Section 504.  The district regularly provided its students with nut allergies “Life-threatening Allergy Management Plans” (LAMPs), but did not routinely evaluate each of them to determine their need for special education or related services.  OCR noted that districts must take steps to ensure the school environment is as safe for students with disabilities as it is for students without disabilities.  In addition, districts cannot simply wait for parents of students with nut allergies to ask for an evaluation under Section 504.  Rather, districts have an affirmative “child-find” duty to locate students with disabilities.  Since the LAMPs were not typically specific to each individual child with a nut allergy, they could not address the individual needs of such students in their various school environments.  Accordingly, the district agreed to evaluate students with LAMPs under Section 504.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Districts should evaluate students with peanut allergies for possible accommodations under Section 504.

District must conduct medical evaluation if necessary to evaluate all areas of suspected disability.

Monday, September 24th, 2012

M.J.C. v. Special School District No. 1, 58 IDELR 288 (D. Minn. 2012):  A federal district court held that a school district violated the IDEA’s child-find mandate by requiring a parent to obtain a private diagnosis of ADHD before the district would classify the student as other health impaired.

Due to miscommunication, the parent resisted attempts to classify the student with an emotional or behavioral disorder.  Despite such resistance, the parent routinely provided consent for the district to complete evaluations.  However, it was not until the parent finally obtained a medical diagnosis of ADHD that the district classified the student as one with a disability.  The Court deemed the district’s failure to conduct any medical evaluation necessary to determine the student’s possible ADHD violated its child find obligation.  As a result of the district’s failure to complete the necessary assessments, the student’s behavioral issues increased.  Accordingly, by the time the student was classified, he required a greater intensity of services than may have been necessary had the district completed its evaluation.  Therefore, the district denied the student a free appropriate public education.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on District must conduct medical evaluation if necessary to evaluate all areas of suspected disability.

Statute of limitations tolls when school district failed to advise parents of rights and propose evaluation of student.

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Centennial School District v. S.D., 58 IDELR 45 (S.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court held that the statute of limitations tolled for a student whose parents did not receive any notice from the school district regarding their rights under the IDEA.  The student’s asthma and gastro-intestinal condition often prevented him from attending school.

The school was aware of the student’s problems as early as kindergarten, and his problem persisted throughout his schooling.  Despite his attendance issues, the school never provided his parents with notice or explanation of their rights to an evaluation and a determination of eligibility for special education or related services as a student with a disability.  Although the parents never made a written referral to the IEP team, the Court determined that the student’s mother repeatedly raised concerns verbally and asked for help from the school district.  In light of these requests, the school district should have initiated an evaluation and provided the parents with procedural safeguards.  Since the district took neither step, the parents’ claim that the school district violated its child find obligation was deemed timely.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Statute of limitations tolls when school district failed to advise parents of rights and propose evaluation of student.

Federal Court of Appeals overturns decision to certify a child-find claim as a class action

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools, 58 IDELR 91 (7th Cir. 2012): The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that plaintiffs claiming child-find violations and seeking classification as “students eligible to receive special education from [the school district] ‘who are, have been or will be’ denied or delayed entry into or participation in the IEP process” to be ineligible to file a class action lawsuit.  A settlement agreement, which the class plaintiffs entered into with the state defendant (over the objection of the school district) and an order from the court that included monitoring of the school district’s compliance with its child find obligations, was also vacated.  The Eighth Circuit reasoned that the claims of the class plaintiffs were “highly individualized and vastly diverse” and lacked sufficient “commonality” (which is one of the required elements of a certified class).

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Federal Court of Appeals overturns decision to certify a child-find claim as a class action

School district did not improperly delay eligibility determination where student made meaningful progress under RTI approach

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Daniel P. v. Downington Area School District, 57 IDELR 224 (E.D. Pa. 2011): A federal district court determined that a school district, who utilized a response to interventions (RTI) approach to monitor a student, did not violate its child find obligations by initially opting not to determine the student eligible for IDEA services.  The student responded positively to the school district’s interventions for nearly two school years, until the third semester of the student’s second grade year.  However, when the student stopped making progress he was evaluated by the school district and classified with a specific learning disability by the beginning of his third grade year.  The parents were, therefore, denied tuition reimbursement for their unilateral private school placement.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district did not improperly delay eligibility determination where student made meaningful progress under RTI approach

School district violated Child Find obligations by not evaluating student it assigned to alternative school due to behavioral issues.

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

D.G. v. Flour Bluff Independent School District, 56 IDELR 255 (S.D. Tex. 2011):  A U.S. District Court held a school district violated its Child Find obligations when it failed to evaluate a student under the IDEA after the district assigned the student to an alternative school due to his significant behavioral issues.

The student, who was privately diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome, began to exhibit significant behavioral issues beginning in the Fall of his ninth grade school year.  As a result, the district assigned him to an alternative school and required that he have 31 “successful” days (i.e. – days without a behavioral incident) at such alternative school before returning to his regular placement.  The student was so assigned multiple times throughout the school year, but despite the repeated behavioral concerns and the fact that he received private diagnoses of ADHD and Tourette’s Syndrome, the district did not evaluate the student pursuant to the IDEA until October of his tenth grade school year.

The Court determined that the student’s behavioral issues, as well as his private diagnoses, gave the school district reason to suspect he had a disability, thereby obligating the district to evaluate the student under IDEA.  By waiting approximately a year from the manifestation of the behavioral problems before conducting an evaluation, the district’s evaluation was untimely.  Accordingly, the Court awarded the student a year of compensatory education.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district violated Child Find obligations by not evaluating student it assigned to alternative school due to behavioral issues.

Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS).