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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

Manifestation review required for child presumed to be disabled due to pattern of behavior

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Anaheim Union High School District v. J.E., 61 IDELR 107 (C.D. Cal. 2013): A federal district court determined that a school district should have conducted a manifestation determination review for a student not classified under the IDEA.  The district had suspended the student and removed him to a community day school following a disciplinary incident.

The student had ADHD and anxiety, and manifested several behavioral issues in school (including irritability, agitation, and panic attacks).  The school was aware of these issues, and identified the student as a student with a disability pursuant to Section 504 (but not IDEA).  Nevertheless, the Court found that the school should have conducted a manifestation determination review.  The child was presumed to be disabled under the IDEA (and entitled to its protections) because the school had a basis of knowledge to believe the student’s pattern of behavior related to his disability.  Significantly, the court determined that a “pattern of behavior” giving rise to a presumption of disability should not be limited to previous disciplinary issues.

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IDEA due process hearing officers can review whether student actions violate school codes of conduct

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Letter to Ramirez, 60 IDELR 230 (OSEP 2013):  A federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), in a letter to an attorney representing parents, indicated that there may be instances where a due process hearing officer may address whether or not the actions of a student violate the school’s code of conduct.  OSEP noted that, should a hearing officer review such an issue, the federal IDEA regulations neither prohibit (nor require) the hearing officer from exercising such discretion.

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Parent awarded reimbursement for private tuition after student expulsion.

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Fisher v. Friendship Public Charter School, 58 IDELR 287 (D.D.C. 2012):  A federal district court held that a public charter school denied a student with ADHD a free appropriate public education when it expelled the student for drug use, but failed to provide sufficient services in an interim setting following the expulsion.

The student arrived at school under the influence of marijuana, which resulted in his expulsion.  The parent did not dispute that such drug use was not a manifestation of the student’s disability, and the expulsion was therefore proper.  However, the school failed to offer any appropriate interim educational placement in order to permit the student to progress toward meeting the goals in his IEP.  All the school offered was to provide the specialized instruction and counseling specified on the student’s IEP and a list of phone numbers for the parent to call in order to seek a new placement.

Instead of using the school’s numbers, the parent enrolled the student in a private school.  However, the Court noted that it was not the parent’s responsibility to find the student an interim setting.  Since the school failed to provide an interim alternative educational curriculum, and also failed to contest the appropriateness of the private school, the parent was entitled to reimbursement.

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School district violated child-find obligation by failing to evaluate student in all areas of his suspected disability

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

School Board of the City of Norfolk v. Brown, 56 IDELR 18 (E.D. Va. 2010): Although a school district had previously evaluated and classified a student with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder as a student with a disability under the category of “other health impairment,” the court affirmed the decision of an impartial hearing officer who had concluded that the school district had violated its child-find obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to evaluate the student in all areas of his suspected disability.  The school district should have also provided the student with a functional behavioral analysis (FBA) and behavior intervention plan (BIP) due to the evidence of the student’s history of engaging in behaviors that impeded the student’s learning or that of others.

The court also affirmed the hearing officer’s conclusion that the school district violated the IDEA by conducting a procedurally flawed Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) following a behavioral incident that led to a suspension.  In particular, the MDR team failed to consider a psychiatric report that was generated as a direct consequence of the behavioral incident and the MDR team failed to afford the parents an adequate opportunity to participate at the meeting.

Moreover, the court agreed with the hearing officer that the school district procedurally violated the IDEA when it placed the student in an alternative setting during the student’s suspension.  The decision to place the student in the alternative setting was made by the school board, but should have been made by student’s IEP team.  Moreover, the placement substantively violated the IDEA because it was not the least restrictive environment (LRE) in which the student could receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

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Student’s escalating behavioral issues triggered need for manifestation determination, despite fact that she was not classified with a disability and received various interventions.

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Jackson v. Northwest Local School District, 55 IDELR 71, adopted at 55 IDELR 104 (S.D. Ohio 2010):  A school district has a duty to perform a manifestation determination for a student with escalating behavioral issues, who was not yet classified as a student with a disability under IDEA or 504, but who should have been suspected of having a disability.

In this case, the student received various behavior interventions as part of a response to intervention (RTI) process.  Despite these interventions, the student’s behavioral issues continued to escalate, resulting in the Intervention Assessment Team meeting and recommending that she seek help from an outside mental health agency.  Nevertheless, the student was not evaluated by an IEP team and no recommendation was made regarding her eligibility for an IEP.  The student was subsequently expelled for threatening behavior, and no manifestation determination was conducted.

The Court determined that the school district was deemed to have knowledge of the student’s disability at the time she was expelled and referred to the outside mental health agency.  As a result, the school district should have conducted a manifestation determination review to see if the student’s behavior was a manifestation of her disability.  Therefore, the Court awarded the student compensatory education services for the period of her expulsion, and that such disciplinary action be expunged from her student records.

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