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

Posts Tagged ‘dyslexia’

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.

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ESY not necessary to provide FAPE to student who had little risk of serious regression over summer break

Monday, July 15th, 2013

C.H. ex rel. F.H. v. Goshen Cent. Sch. Dist., 61 IDELR 19 (S.D.N.Y. 2013)—in this case, a fifth grade student with dyslexia had received ESY services to prevent regression in her English Language Arts (ELA) skills. A Subcommittee of the IEP Team convened to develop the student’s fifth grade IEP, where it considered prior evaluations as well as updated reports from teachers and samples of the student’s work. The Subcommittee decided not to recommend ESY because no regression had been observed. Thereafter, the parents filed a due process complaint challenging (among other actions) the removal of ESY services for ELA. Ultimately, the SRO rejected the IHO’s finding that the student had been denied a FAPE, and the parents appealed that decision. The court, giving due weight to the decision of the SRO, found that the record supported the conclusion that substantial regression was not likely. The court reasoned that the district met its burden of proving the absence of a need for ESY services by providing numerous evaluations by different professionals (including some professionals privately retained by the parents) which revealed no risk of substantial regression over the summer break.

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Teen entitled to ESY when his reading skills quickly regressed during short breaks from instruction

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Annette K. ex rel. C.K. v. State of Hawaii, Dep’t of Educ., 60 IDELR 278 (D. Hawaii 2013) (this case involves a student with severe dyslexia who had previously received extended school year services (ESY) after breaks from school of more than seven days. An IEP team met to discuss the student’s education, and determined that he was not eligible for ESY. The parent challenged the proposed IEP and unilaterally placed the student in a private school, and also hired a private reading tutor. The Hearing Officer found for the district, stating that though it was inappropriate to deny the student ESY, this was simply a procedural violation that did not fatally flaw the IEP. The parent appealed the Hearing Officer’s decision, arguing that the Hearing Officer’s finding that ESY was inappropriately denied to the student requires a finding that the student was denied a FAPE. The court reversed the Hearing Officer’s decision, finding no explanation for deeming the denial of ESY services as a procedural violation, rather than a substantive violation. Based on evidence of rapid regression in reading skills, and the student’s progress in the private school, the court found that the district failed to provide a FAPE to the student by denying him ESY services. The case was remanded back to the Hearing Officer to determine the proper relief, including whether the parent may be entitled to reimbursement for the unilateral placement and private reading tutor.

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Parents need not explain objections to an evaluation to qualify for an IEE at public expense.

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

In re Student with a Disability, 58 IDELR 57 (NY SRO 2011):  The New York State Review Officer (SRO) upheld an impartial hearing officer’s (IHO) determination that parents of a student with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and a disorder of written expression, were entitled to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense.

The parents disagreed with the district’s psychoeducational evaluation of the student, and obtained a private evaluation at their expense.  The parents then requested the IHO to order reimbursement for their evaluation.  The district argued the parents were not entitled to an IEE at public expense partly because they failed to explain why they wanted an IEE.  The SRO noted that comments accompanying the federal IDEA regulations specifically provide that a school cam ask the parent why he or she objects to the public evaluation, but the district “cannot require the parent to provide an explanation.”  The district’s only option is to request an impartial hearing to demonstrate the appropriateness of its evaluation.

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Change in disability classification does not require change in services if the student’s needs remain substantially the same.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Hailey M. v. Matayoshi, 57 IDELR 124 (D. Hawaii 2011): A U.S. District Court held that a subsequent change in a student’s disability classification does not require a corresponding change in the nature of the services provided to the student. The student was initially diagnosed as mentally retarded in 1999, but after private evaluations obtained by the student’s parent, her classification was changed to specific learning disability. Thereafter, the program recommended by the school district was a continuation of the student’s placement in a special education class with extended school year services, despite the parent’s request for a general education classroom.

The Court determined that the district continuously offered IEPs based on the student’s unique educational needs, regardless of her disability classification. Specifically, the student’s special education teacher testified that, notwithstanding the change in disability classification, the student’s educational needs did not change significantly. As a result, the district offered the student a free appropriate public education and the parent thus was not entitled to reimbursement for the services she obtained from private providers to address the student’s specific learning disabilities.

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School district does not have to offer specific reading program requested by a parent in order to provide a free appropriate public education.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

D.G. v. Cooperstown Central School District, 55 IDELR 155 (N.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court upheld a New York State Review Officer decision dismissing a parent’s appeal relating to her alleged denial of a free appropriate public education for her son.

The student was diagnosed with dyslexia, and benefitted from a multi-sensory reading program.  The parent requested a reading program that was “Orton-Gillingham” based, specifically the Wilson Reading Program.  The school district agreed to have two teachers trained in the Wilson program, but the training never happened due to “weather related reasons.”  However, the teachers were trained in other multi-sensory reading programs.  The Court noted that the parent failed to draw attention to “any inadequacies in the District’s reading programs” instead focusing on the “superiority of the Wilson program” and the private school in which she placed her son.  However, the school district “did not fail to provide D.G. a free appropriate public education by utilizing other proven methods” and, therefore, the parent was not entitled to tuition reimbursement.

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Parents must notify school district of dissatisfaction with proposed IEP and placement of student in a private school each year.

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

J.W. v. Kingston City School District, 55 IDELR 132 (N.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court reduced the tuition reimbursement award to parents of a student diagnosed with dyslexia.  The impartial hearing officer and State Review Officer both found that the school district failed to show that the proposed IEP for the student was reasonably calculated to provide an educational benefit.  However, the SRO held that the parents should be denied reimbursement on equitable grounds, since they did not raise their concerns about the IEP in a timely manner.

For the school year in question, the school district received the parents’ letter outlining their concerns about the proposed IEP and notifying the school district of their intentions to place the student privately, only five days before the school year began.  The parents argued that the student had attended the private school for two years, and they notified the school district at the time of the student’s initial removal from public school.  The SRO rejected this argument and the Court agreed, noting that parents are obligated to provide notice of their dissatisfaction with the proposed IEP and enrollment in a private school each year.

However, the Court overturned the SRO in relation to the overall balance of the equities.  The Court found that the school district “made no appreciable effort” to address the concerns raised by the parents in their letter, and that the district’s “generic” response to the letter showed that, had the parents raised their concerns sooner, the response would not have specifically addressed the parents’ concerns.  Therefore, the overall equities favored the parents, and entitled them to reimbursement (less a reduction for their failure to provide the requisite ten days’ notice).

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Efforts to include parents at IEP meeting supported school district’s refusal to pay private school tuition reimbursement

Friday, December 17th, 2010

J.G. v. Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District, 54 IDELR 20 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  The court agreed with the State Review Officer (and hearing officer)’s decision to deny the parents’ claim for private school tuition reimbursement for the unilateral placement of their child, a student with dyslexia.  The court concluded that the student’s IEP adequately assessed the student’s present levels of educational performance and adequately addressed the student’s social and emotional needs as well as the parents’ concerns regarding the student’s reading deficits. The parents also complained that the IEP did not specifically state that that the District would use the Lindamood-Bell or Orton-Gillingham methodologies.  Furthermore, the court concluded that although the parents’ were absent from the IEP meeting, they were afforded an opportunity to participate in the meeting and declined the opportunity to participate by telephone.  The school district’s documented attempts to arrange for the parents attendance at the meeting, including the offer to participate by phone, was sufficient to satisfy the school district’s legal obligation to arrange for the parents’ attendance.

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Student’s progress of one grade level over the course of an academic year was sufficient educational benefit, although she remained well below grade level overall.

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

High v. Exeter Township School District, 54 IDELR 17 (E.D. Pa. 2010):  A U.S. District Court determined a program developed by a high school provided a FAPE to a student with significant reading delays.  The school district’s program helped the student to move from a fifth grade reading level to a sixth grade reading level during her eleventh grade academic year.  The Court said that her parents “could not have reasonably expected the District to close a six-year gap in her reading ability in one year.”  Since “the parents of a child without a learning disability could expect no more” than one year’s worth of progress, the student’s progress demonstrated that her IEP provided a meaningful educational benefit.

Although the parents admitted that the student’s progress was more than trivial, they argued that the IEP was still deficient because the school district did not develop a sufficient transition plan, and did not provide an extended school year or assistive technology.  Namely, the parents argued that since the student wanted to attend college, she would not have the skills necessary to achieve that transition goal.  However, the Court rejected that argument, and determined that the student had been provided with a sufficient transition plan.  The Court focused on the significant support the school provided the student (including multiple meetings with a transition counselor, assistance with applying for the PSAT and SAT tests (including seeking accommodations for both), and arranging for job shadowing opportunities).  The Court further determined that, the student did not demonstrate a need for assistive technology, and, in light of the student’s progress, an extended school year was not necessary.  Therefore, the Court found that the school district provided the student a FAPE.

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School district’s failure to correct deficiencies in student’s IEP renders program inappropriate, entitling the student’s parents to tuition reimbursement for private school placement.

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Bougades v. Pine Plains Central School District, 53 IDELR 42 (S.D.N.Y. 2009): A federal district court overturned the decisions of a New York impartial hearing officer (“IHO”) and state review office (“SRO”) that a student’s IEP for the 2003-04 school year provided him a FAPE.

The student was classified as learning disabled, due to reading and language difficulties stemming from his dyslexia.  In order to provide a multi-sensory reading program, the student’s IEP stated he would receive one reading intervention period, one writing intervention period, and five resource room periods, each week.  However, the record showed the student instead received “four or five periods of inclusion programming” and additional multi-sensory tutoring for reading.

At the conclusion of the 2002-03 school year, the student had mastered, or made satisfactory progress, on only two of his IEP goals, neither of which directly address his learning disability.  Despite passing his classes for most of the school year, the student ultimately failed two courses and the school district did not promote him from sixth to seventh grade.  As a result, the school district proposed, for the 2003-04 IEP, to provide four inclusion classes daily, one multi-sensory reading period daily, and a writing intervention period every other day.  The student’s parents rejected this program, and instead placed the student in a private school and requested a hearing.  The IHO and SRO held that the 2003-04 IEP provided the student a FAPE.

The federal district court disagreed.  Noting the student’s lack of progress, and his difficulties in completing homework, the court held that the 2003-04 IEP was not reasonably calculated to allow the student to make meaningful progress, particularly in the areas of writing and homework completion.  The student’s writing was “a critical area of concern,” and a writing intervention every other day was not sufficient to address that concern.  Further, the IEP did not address the student’s difficulty completing homework, notwithstanding that the district was aware that such difficulty contributed to the student’s failing grades.  As a result, the 2003-04 IEP was inappropriate and the parent’s placement of the student at a private school warranted reimbursement.

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