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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘cognitive impairment’

School district must respond to disability based harassment once the District is aware of its occurrence.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Williamston (MI) Community Schools, 56 IDELR 22 (OCR 2010):  The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), determined that a school district did not properly respond to disability-based harassment of a student when the school district failed to take appropriate steps upon learning of the harassment.  The student had cognitive impairments that affected his communication skills and interfered with his ability to navigate social situations.  As a result, he participated in an alternative curriculum for most subjects and became the target of verbal and physical teasing.

OCR stated that once a school district knows, or reasonably should know, of possible harassment based on disability, it must respond promptly and effectively.  This is true even if the school district does not learn of the harassment from the harassed individual directly.  The student’s parent raised concerns about the bullying to the school district, and the student’s guidance counselor discussed bullying in general terms with the student.  However, the student was reluctant to fill out written incident reports of the bullying, and for that reason, the school district took little action to investigate and remedy all of the instances of disability-based harassment of which it was aware.  As a result, the school district failed to comply with Section 504.

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Student’s slow progress resulted from her cognitive impairments and not from denial of FAPE

Friday, December 17th, 2010

K.S. v. Fremont Unified School District, 53 IDELR 287 (N.D. Cal. 2009):  The Court agreed with the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusion that the student’s slow progress was attributed to the student’s autism and cognitive impairments and was not an indication that she was denied a FAPE.  The fact that the student achieved, but did not surpass, the majority of her goals on her IEP, tended to show that the IEP was developed appropriately.  The court also rejected the parent’s argument that the student’s IEP was deficient because it did not include thirty hours per week of intensive ABA therapy.  The court concluded that the parent was not entitled to mandate the school district to select a particular methodology among many alternatives as long as the methodology chosen by the school district was otherwise sufficient.

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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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