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

Posts Tagged ‘compensatory education’

District’s failures in developing IEP entitle parent to private tuition and compensatory education award.

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Ravenswood City School District v. J.S., 59 IDELR 77 (N.D. Cal. 2012):  A federal district court affirmed a hearing officer’s determination in favor of parents of a student with a specified learning disability, awarding the parents reimbursement for their unilateral placement as well as compensatory education.  The district failed to provide the student’s mother with notice of the IDEA’s procedural safeguards upon her referral to the IEP team, which left her unaware of certain rights.  Specifically, the student’s mother was left with the misimpression that the district could refuse to assess the student until it was provided with privately obtained test results.  As a result, the IEP team did not meet in a timely manner and the student was denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Further, once the IEP team did meet, it failed to develop an adequate IEP suited to the student’s needs (most notably failing to properly address the student’s phonological awareness needs).  As a result, the parents unilaterally placed the student in a private program and sought reimbursement.  The hearing officer awarded the requested reimbursement, and 600 hours of tutoring as compensatory education (the hearing officer excused any failure on the parents’ part to file a timely due process complaint due to the district’s failure to timely provide notice of the parents’ procedural safeguards).  The court affirmed.

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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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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.

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Districts must evaluate when requested, despite parent’s alleged acceptance of RTI process.

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Cherokee (TX) Independent School District, 59 IDELR 18 (OCR 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) informed a school district that it should have evaluated a student for services and accommodations under Section 504 upon a parent’s request.  The parent requested an evaluation in November, but the district did not complete its evaluation until the following April.  The district alleged that, in that timeframe, it implemented its RTI process, and the parent acquiesced.  However, OCR faulted the district for failing to notify the parent of her procedural safeguards, including the right to appeal the district’s decision not to evaluate the student and its determination that the student did not yet require special education or related services.  Accordingly, the district agreed to convene a team to discuss what, if any, harm the student suffered as a result of the delayed evaluation as well as any compensatory services that may be necessary.

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Failure to reschedule an IEP team meeting denied student a FAPE.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

J.T. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 59 IDELR 4 (D. Hawaii 2012):  A U.S. District Court held a school district denied a student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to reschedule an IEP team meeting at the parent’s request, notwithstanding that the parent participated in subsequent IEP team meetings during that school year.

The district scheduled an IEP team meeting on a specific date in order to adhere to its own internal deadlines regarding completion of annual reviews.  However, the parent was unable to attend on that specific date and requested the meeting be rescheduled a few days later.  The district convened the meeting in the parent’s absence to fulfill its deadline, and developed an IEP with goals and objectives identical to previous IEPs.  Although the IEP team met again later in the school year, the parent was not afforded sufficient opportunity to contribute.  Accordingly, the two meetings together amounted to a failure to offer the parent the opportunity for meaningful participation.  Such failure rises to the level of a denial of FAPE and the Court therefore determined the student should be awarded compensatory education.

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Student denied compensatory education after being unable to prove gross violation of IDEA

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

In re: Student with a Disability, 57 IDELR 179 (SEA NY 2011): Following precedent of the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, The New York State Review Officer (SRO) determined that in order for a student who is no longer eligible for special education by reason of age or graduation to be awarded compensatory education, the student must prove a gross violation of the IDEA resulting in a denial of FAPE.  In this case the parent of a student with a learning disability claimed that the student, who was 22 years old at the time of the due process hearing, was entitled to compensatory education due to the school district’s failure to provide him with an appropriate vocational program.  However, the SRO refused to find a gross violation of the IDEA since the parent had rejected a vocational program that would have been appropriate for the student.

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Student still entitled to compensatory education despite her graduation from high school during the litigation process.

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Brooks v. District of Columbia, 58 IDELR 103 (D.D.C. 2012):  A U.S. District Court affirmed its award of compensatory education to a student, notwithstanding the fact that the student graduated from high school while her case was pending in court.  The student, who was diagnosed with a learning disability, did not receive an appropriate vocational evaluation, and the school district’s failure to do so in a timely manner denied her a FAPE.  Accordingly, the Court ordered compensatory education.

However, while the case was pending, the student graduated from high school and received a diploma.  The school district argued that receipt of a diploma terminated the student’s eligibility for special education and related services.  The Court disagreed, noting that it had the ability to award compensatory education to a student denied her statutory rights (notwithstanding her graduation).  Therefore, the Court affirmed its earlier compensatory education award.

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District’s inclusion of parents in IEP process and student’s overall progress showed she received FAPE.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

K.C. v. Nazareth Area School District, 57 IDELR 92 (E.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court ruled that a school district’s willingness to work with parents of a student with disabilities, and the progress the student demonstrated under the IEPs contested by the parents, resulted in a free appropriate public education for the student.

The student was twenty years old, and attended a private school at the District’s expense due to her diagnosis of Prader-Willi Syndrome (a genetic disorder), which was considered the underlying cause of most of the student’s academic and functional skill issues.  The student also had brain damage due to an in-utero stroke.  Throughout her education at her private school (beginning in 2006) her parents only agreed to one IEP.  That IEP was finalized in May of 2007.  Since that IEP, the parents requested numerous IEP Team meetings and insisted on specific language to be included in the IEP.  As a result, the last IEP the district offered the student was more than seventy-five (75) pages long.

Despite the length of the IEP, the parents still disagreed with the nature of the services provided.  The Court, affirming the impartial hearing officer, determined that the student’s demonstrated progress showed that the services the district provided were appropriate.  More specifically, the parents argued that the transition plan was deficient due to a failure to provide travel training and the student failed to meet certain transition goals.  However, the Court found that the student made adequate progress.  Additionally, the Court concluded that the parents’ failed to consent to specific transition programs the district wished to provide.   Such programs likely would have been beneficial to the student, and enhanced her transition plan.  Therefore, the Court held the district offered a FAPE, and the student was not entitled to compensatory education.

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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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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.

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