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

Posts Tagged ‘enrollment’

Unenrollment from school district of residence does not eliminate its obligation to provide a charter school student with an IEP.

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

I.H. v. Cumberland Valley School District, 58 IDELR 94 (M.D. Pa. 2012):  A U.S. District Court held that the IDEA requires a school district to provide a resident student with an IEP even though the student was currently enrolled in a charter school.  The Court distinguished between developing an IEP, or essentially an offer of FAPE, and implementing the IEP, or providing FAPE.

The student, who was identified as having an emotional disability, attended a public cyber charter school due to the emotional difficulties he encountered while attending his local school district.  However, the student’s guardian was considering re-enrolling the student in his public school district of residence.  She requested the school district evaluate the student and develop an IEP in order to adequately weigh her options.  The district failed to develop an IEP, and an impartial hearing officer (IHO) found that the district was not obligated to offer an IEP to a student not enrolled.

The Court overturned the IHO, noting that, while the charter school must provide the student with FAPE, the school district is required to evaluate a proposed student and develop an IEP to designed to offer FAPE.  Here, the guardian requested an IEP to consider the student’s re-enrollment.  Therefore, the school district was required to conduct the evaluation and develop an IEP.  The student’s enrollment in the charter school only affected whether the district was obligated to provide the services identified in the IEP, not whether it was obligated to develop an IEP in the first instance.

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Child’s residency, not his or her formal enrollment in public schools, obligates school district to re-evaluate.

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Moorestown Township Board of Education v. M.D., 57 IDELR 158 (D.N.J. 2011): A U.S. District Court held that the location of a child’s residence determines whether or not the school district has an obligation to re-evaluate the child. The Court rejected the District’s argument that, in order for there to be an affirmative obligation to re-evaluate a student with a disability, that student needs to be enrolled in the school district.

The parents unilaterally enrolled the student in a private school that, at the time of the student’s enrollment, was within the school district where the student resided. After the student had spent more than a year at such private school, the parents requested the district re-evaluate him for potential placement back in a public school setting. The district refused to evaluate the student, despite the fact that the student resided within the district, unless he first re-enrolled in the public schools. The parents did not want to re-enroll the student in the district, out of fear of potentially losing his spot in the private school should the district not create an acceptable program.

After the parents filed a due process complaint, the administrative law judge (ALJ) determined the district denied the student a free appropriate public education by not conducting evaluations and convening an IEP Team meeting. The district appealed the decision, arguing that its duty to evaluate a student with a disability only applies if the student is enrolled in the district. The Court, noting that the district could produce only marginal support for its argument that it does not have to evaluate a student residing within its boundaries, rejected the district’s argument and held that the district’s responsibility to evaluate students with disabilities depends on their residence and does not also require that such students be enrolled in the district’s schools.

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