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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Student’s parents not entitled to reimbursement for private placement where private placement was designed to address student’s drug abuse and behavior issues rather than his educational disabilities.

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Forest Grove School District v. T.A., 53 IDELR 213 (D. Or. 2009):  A federal district court determined, after balancing the equities, that parents were not entitled to reimbursement for their son’s unilateral private placement.

The student, diagnosed with ADHD and depression, was placed in a private school due to his difficulties in public school.  The parents thereafter requested a hearing seeking reimbursement.  The hearing officer determined that the student was sent to the private placement “for reasons unrelated to his disabilities (i.e., substance abuse and behavioral problems)” as well his educational difficulties.  The parents placed the student in his private school on March 24, 2003, but the court determined that the parents could not have disagreed with the school district’s decision until a final decision was made (in this case, not until August 26, 2003, when the school district ultimately determined that the student was not eligible for services under IDEA or Section 504).

The court weighed several factors, but ultimately decided that, in large part because of the fact that the parents placed the student because of his drug abuse and behavioral problems (and “not because of any disability recognized by the IDEA”), reimbursement should be denied.  The court noted that “the [school district’s] responsibility under IDEA is to remedy the learning related symptoms of a disability, not to treat the underlying disability, or to treat other, non-learning related symptoms.”

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Student’s inability to begin classes due to admission to a psychiatric hospital triggered a school district’s child find obligations.

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Regional School District No. 9 Board of Education v. Mr. and Mrs. M., 53 IDELR 8 (D. Conn. 2009): Noting that “the standard for triggering the Child Find duty is suspicion of a disability, rather than factual knowledge of a qualifying disability[,]” a federal district court found that a school district should have begun an evaluation for special education once it was informed that a student with clinical depression would not start school on time due to admission to a psychiatric hospital.

Once the school district had notice that the student’s psychiatric condition interfered with her ability to engage in academics, the district should have evaluated the student within a reasonable period of time.  Although the parents, residents of Connecticut, placed the student in an intensive therapeutic educational program in Utah, the hearing officer found that the school district was on notice to begin an evaluation once the student’s mother informed the district that the student was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  The district court agreed with the parents, and also agreed that the student was eligible for special education as a student with an emotional disturbance.

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