Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher
70 Niagara Street, Suite 200 Buffalo , New York, 14202
Phone: 716-362-1533
Fax: 716-362-1534

The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘emotional disturbance’

School district’s recommended placement appropriate despite more than three year gap in student achievement levels

Monday, June 25th, 2012

S.F. and Y.D. v. New York City Department of Education, 57 IDELR 287 (S.D.N.Y. 2011): The parents of a thirteen-year-old student with a learning disability were denied private school tuition reimbursement for their unilateral placement despite the fact that the school district’s recommended placement included students with academic achievement levels ranging from a third-grade level to a seventh-grade level.  The parents had argued that the gap in academic achievement levels violated New York State law.  The Court noted that although under New York state law there is a maximum three-year range that applies to the chronological age of students, there is no maximum range for levels of academic achievement.  The Court also determined that the inclusion of one student with an emotional disturbance and one student classified as other health impaired, did not make the proposed placement inappropriate.  The requirement to place students with students of similar needs does not necessarily prohibit placing students of varying disabilities in the same classroom.

In addition, the Court concluded that the school district did not procedurally violate the IDEA by not allowing the student’s parent to visit the recommended placement.  Nor did the school district commit a procedural violation when they included a regular education teacher at the student’s IEP team meeting who had not taught regular education for nearly twenty years.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district’s recommended placement appropriate despite more than three year gap in student achievement levels

Compensatory education award vacated where student refused to participate

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Dudley v. Lower Merion School District, 58 IDELR 12 (E.D. Pa. 2011): The federal district court declined a parent’s request for a court order to enforce the hearing officer’s award of compensatory services to a student classified with a specific learning disability and diagnosed as emotionally disturbed.  Despite a school district’s “substantial efforts” to comply, the student participated in the services only sporadically and eventually refused to participate altogether.  Although the hearing officer’s decision ordered the school district to “assure that [the student] arrives at the location . . . escorting him to the room if necessary,” the school district could not have used physical force to ensure the noncompliant student’s attendance.  The court granted the school district’s request to vacate the compensatory education award.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Compensatory education award vacated where student refused to participate

School district may be held liable for student’s suicide if it failed to address bullying.

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Estate of Lance v. Lewisville Independent School District, 57 IDELR 168 (E.D. Tex. 2011): A U.S. District Court allowed a suit to proceed alleging that a school district failed to protect a young student with disabilities who committed suicide. The nine year old student, who was diagnosed with an emotional disturbance, a learning disability, and a speech impairment, was bullied by his peers.

The student was called “gay” by other students due to his speech impairment. His classmates were intimidated to avoid him or find themselves subject to ridicule as well. Due to the repeated bullying, the district convened its IEP Team to discuss the student’s depression and resulting suicidal ideation. The district referred the student for a full psychological assessment, which noted a possible disorder on the autism spectrum. The district recommended counseling four times per six week period and implemented a behavior intervention plan.

The student was disciplined as a result of his responses to the bullying, resulting in his placement in an alternative school. Despite the parent’s insistence that the student’s behavior (which resulted in the discipline) was a response to bullying, the district failed to investigate. The student admitted to having suicidal thoughts, to the counselor at the alternative school, but there was no record of the counselor notifying anyone of such admission. After returning to his regular classroom, the student was again subjected to bullying and sent to in-school suspension. While using the restroom in the nurse’s office during his suspension, the student hung himself.

As a result of the circumstances surrounding the student’s suicide, the Court allowed the case to proceed due to a potential “special relationship” between the school and the student where, due to his disabilities, young age, and the affirmative acts taken by the district, the district may be held liable for a violation of the student’s constitutional rights.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district may be held liable for student’s suicide if it failed to address bullying.

Student’s academic and behavioral issues were a result of drug abuse, not a disability

Friday, September 16th, 2011

P.C. v. Oceanside Union Free School District, 56 IDELR 252 (E.D.N.Y. 2011): Affirming decisions of an impartial hearing officer (IHO) and the state review officer (SRO), the court determined that the student did not qualify as a student with an emotional disturbance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and, therefore, his parents were not entitled to reimbursement for their unilateral private school placement.  The court concluded that the student’s poor academic performance and problem behaviors coincided with his illegal drug use and did not stem from a disability.  The evidence demonstrated that the student had an academic ability in the high average range and that during a time period in which he abstained from drug use, he showed pronounced improvement in his academic performance.  In any event, even if the student were disabled, the private school program was designed to resolve the student’s substance abuse issues and was not designed to treat any type of disability, and would not have been considered appropriate for purposes of reimbursement under the IDEA.

NOTE: Another federal district court in New York arrived at a similar conclusion in a similar case (on almost the same date).  See W.G. v. New York City Department of Education.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student’s academic and behavioral issues were a result of drug abuse, not a disability

School district’s classification of student after consideration of IEE suggests that student was harmed by delay in provision of IEE.

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Taylor v. District of Columbia, 56 IDELR 128 (D.D.C. 2011):  A U.S. District Court found that a school district’s delay in providing a student with an independent educational evaluation (IEE) may have denied the student a FAPE.

The school district conducted a psychological evaluation of the student, and its evaluator determined that the student did not qualify for special education services. The IEP team, however, determined that it required additional information before reaching a conclusion.  Subsequent to the IEP team meeting (in early June 2008), the parent requested an IEE.  The school district did not respond, and the parent filed a due process complaint.

In response to the hearing request, and more than four months after the parent requested the IEE, the school district authorized the IEE.  When the IEE was complete (in December of 2008), the corresponding IEP team that determined the student had an emotional disturbance and ADHD, and required a full time therapeutic setting.  Since the hearing officer was not privy to the determination of the IEP team, the Court remanded the case back to the hearing officer for a determination as to whether or not the delay in the IEE denied a FAPE.  The parent requested a finding that a failure to timely respond to an IEE request be held as a “per se” denial of FAPE, but the Court declined to so hold.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district’s classification of student after consideration of IEE suggests that student was harmed by delay in provision of IEE.

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.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student’s inability to begin classes due to admission to a psychiatric hospital triggered a school district’s child find obligations.

Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS).