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Posts Tagged ‘equitable considerations’

Parent’s participation in IEP process balances equities in her favor

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

A.R. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 12 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court overturned the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision denying a parent reimbursement for a unilateral placement because she failed to participate in the IEP process.

There was no dispute that the school district failed to provide a free appropriate public education, and the Court relied on the SRO’s determination that the unilateral placement was appropriate for the student with learning disabilities and a speech and language impairment.  The SRO, however, in balancing the equitable considerations gave weight to the parent’s signing of a contract with the unilateral placement referencing the parent’s pursuit of due process rights as a source of payment of tuition.  The SRO thus denied reimbursement, since the equities favored the district.  The Court overturned the SRO, however, noting that the parent participated in the IEP process, visited the proposed public placement, and the enrollment contract gave the parent the ability to withdraw from the private program without financial penalty in the event an appropriate public placement was offered.  Accordingly, the Court awarded the parent reimbursement.

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Parent is denied tuition reimbursement when the student was eligible to graduate with a Regents Diploma and the parent unreasonably withheld transcripts regarding student’s graduation status

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

T.M. and J.M., on behalf of T.D.M., v. Kingston City School Dist., 59 IDELR 254 (N.D.N.Y. 2012)—The parents of an eighteen year old with pervasive developmental disorder notified the district of their intent to place the student in a private out-of-state facility in April or May of 2008 and signed a two year contract. The court held that the district’s obligation to provide FAPE ended in June 2008 when the student earned a Regents Diploma. Yet, the parent had repeatedly refused to provide a copy of his transcript to the district. The district did not obtain a copy of the student’s transcript until March of 2010 at which time it was determined that he had had enough credits to receive a Regents high school diploma in June of 2008. If the parent had provided the transcript in June 2008 when it was requested by the district, it would have been clear that the student had earned a Regents diploma and that the district was no longer obligated to provide FAPE. Accordingly, equitable considerations did not warrant tuition reimbursement to the parent.

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Parent’s removal of student from public school did not excuse school district’s failure to develop IEP

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Department of Education, State of Hawaii v. M.F., 58 IDELR 34 (D. Hawaii 2011): The federal district court stated that although a parent removed a student, classified as emotionally disturbed (due to her diagnoses of reactive attachment disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, gender identity disorder, and major depressive disorder) from a public school, the public school district still should at least have attempted to prepare IEPs for the beginning of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.  The IDEA requires a school district to give a parent prior written notice before special education and related services are discontinued, and the parent’s removal of the student did not excuse the school district from this requirement.  However, the federal court vacated and remanded the hearing officer’s decision that the parent was entitled to private school tuition reimbursement.  The court reasoned that the record was silent regarding whether, despite the school district’s procedural violation, the student suffered a “loss of educational opportunity,” since it was unclear whether the parent would have accepted a public school placement even if it was offered.  The court also stated that the hearing officer failed to address equitable considerations regarding the parent’s entitlement to reimbursement, since the parent failed to notify the school district before removing the student from the public school.

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Procedural violations, which did not deny FAPE, and parents’ lack of cooperation prevents them from obtaining reimbursement for unilateral private school placement

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Lazerson v. Capistrano Unified School District, 56 IDELR 213 (C.D. Cal. 2011): The court affirmed a hearing officer’s decision denying tuition reimbursement for the unilateral private school placement of an emotionally disturbed student, struggling academically, but not previously educationally classified.  Although the school district procedurally violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to provide the parents with timely notice of procedural safeguards and a formal assessment plan, as required by California law, it was the parents’ abrupt removal of the student to an out-of-state private school that prevented the school district from evaluating the student and providing her with services.  The court stated that even if the school district’s procedural violations had amounted to a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), equitable considerations did not favor reimbursement to the parents since they only gave the school district one day’s notice of their intention to place the student at the private school.

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School district’s failure to offer a public placement excused parent from obligation to provide notice of unilateral placement.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

C.Z. v. New York City Department of Education, 54 IDELR 223 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court held that parents are not obligated to provide notice of a unilateral private placement when the school district never even recommended a public placement.  As a result, the student’s parents were entitled to partial reimbursement for her unilateral placement at a private school.

The student, who was diagnosed with a speech impairment and central auditory processing disorder, attended a private school offering a language based program from second grade through fifth grade (when she aged out).  The program provided a nurturing environment with a teacher and an aide in classes of eight to ten students.  The student also received related services, including occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.

Since the student was aging out, her parents enrolled her in a different private school due to their concern that the school district would not offer an appropriate program.  Despite such enrollment, the parents purchased “tuition insurance” in the event they removed the student from the private school.  The Court also noted that the parents cooperated with the school district, and participated in the IEP process in good faith.  Despite such participation, the school district never made a final offer of a recommended placement.  As a result, the student attended the private school in which she had been enrolled and the parents never provided written notice of their intention to make a unilateral placement.

The Court determined that since the district never formally offered a placement (which failure the district conceded denied the student a FAPE), the parents were not expected to provide notice under the IDEA, rejecting a placement that was never offered.  Consequently, equitable considerations (including the parents’ cooperation and their reasons for not providing written notice) did not relieve the school’s obligation to reimburse them for the private placement.  However, since the regular education component of the private school did not meet the student’s unique needs, the parents were only reimbursed for the tuition relating to the private school’s support program, conducted by a special education teacher.

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