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Posts Tagged ‘Evaluation’

Notice of private evaluation and frequent absences requires school district to evaluate

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Broward County (FL) School District, 61 IDELR 265 (OCR 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) determined that a school district should have suspected a student as having a disability where the student was excessively absent and his teacher contributed to a private evaluation obtained by the student’s parent.  Since the teacher contributed to the parent’s private psychiatric evaluation of the student, and the student’s frequent absences related to his disability, the school had a duty to initiate its own evaluation to determine the student’s need for special education and related services.

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Teacher observations, progress reports enough data to develop IEP

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

D.B. v. New York City Department of Education, 61 IDELR 245 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal U.S. District Court excused a school district’s failure to conduct a triennial re-evaluation, as such failure ultimately did not deny the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  Although the school district did not conduct any updated testing, the IEP team had various progress reports evaluating the student’s ability levels, as well the feedback from the student’s teachers and other service providers.  There was no indication at the IEP team meeting that anyone, including the student’s parents, believed the information available to the IEP team was insufficient or otherwise inadequate.  Accordingly, as the resulting IEP was suitably designed to provide the student with FAPE, any procedural violation committed by the school district was excused.

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Parent consent may be necessary for later stages of RTI

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Letter to Gallo, 61 IDELR 173 (OSEP 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) advised a state education official that a school district need not seek parental consent to conduct an evaluation if the evaluation (including certain primary levels of an RTI framework) consists of the collection of data from all students in a general education setting.  Moreover, consent would not be necessary to review any data so collected within the context of determining the possible existence of a disability.  However, consent is required if, during a later stages of an RTI framework.  The critical determination is if the evaluation relates to an individual student and to determine whether the student has a disability potentially requiring special education and related services.  Accordingly, even if within the context of RTI (and not a formal referral to the IEP team) consent would still be required.

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School districts must complete evaluations and provide comparable services to newly transferred students

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Letter to State Directors of Special Education, 61 IDELR 202 (OSERS 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) prepared a letter to state-level directors of special education providing additional insight into the evaluation of highly mobile students, as well as the provision of comparable services to such students.  Highly mobile students include those students who transfer school districts frequently (such as children in military or migrant families, and homeless children).

OSERS noted that if a student transfers while its previous school was completing a special education evaluation, the student’s new school should complete the evaluation without delay.  Specifically, the new school cannot defer completion of the evaluation so it may employ its RTI model.

Also, OSERS specifically identified extended school year services (ESY) as a “comparable service” which should be provided when a student transfers school districts.  Comparable services are not limited to those services provided during the traditional school year.

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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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State regulation identifying RTI as a pre-referral strategy consistent with IDEA.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Letter to Ferrara, 60 IDELR 46 (OSEP 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) informed a director of a special education association that a state’s regulation identifying RTI as a pre-referral strategy for general education students is consistent with the IDEA.  Provided a regulation regarding the use of RTI does not prohibit parents or school personnel from making a referral when warranted, or permit implementation of RTI to delay a response to a parent’s request for a full evaluation, a state can identify RTI as an appropriate pre-referral strategy.

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District cannot refer a student to RTI process in lieu of commencing a requested evaluation.

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Broward County (FL) School District, 59 IDELR 143 (OCR 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) found that a school district violated Section 504 by failing to conduct an evaluation regarding a student with academic and behavioral difficulties stemming from his ADHD.

The student’s parent requested that the student be evaluated due to the manifestation of certain academic and behavioral difficulties for the student.  However, the district failed to proceed with the evaluation, instead referring the student to the response to intervention (RTI) process.  By implementing the RTI process, instead of proceeding with the requested evaluation, the district improperly delayed the student’s evaluation (which eventually commenced three months later).

Also, OCR found that the team that met to discuss the student’s 504 accommodations was not properly constituted.  The alleged 504 Team only consisted of the district’s 504 liaison, and the student’s parents, rather than a “group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the evaluation data, and the placement options.”  Accordingly, OCR concluded the district failed to comply with Section 504.

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Parents denied reimbursement (but entitled to compensatory education) where district had denied FAPE, but offered an appropriate IEP prior to parents’ unilateral placement.

Monday, February 18th, 2013

I.T. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 59 IDELR 129 (D. Hawaii 2012):  A federal district court denied a parents’ request for tuition reimbursement for a unilateral placement, where the district had denied the student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to provide timely speech and language therapy, but ultimately did offer speech services prior to the parents’ unilateral placement.

The court concluded that the district failed to evaluate the student in all areas of suspected disability by not evaluating him for a potential central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).  The district’s prior written notice for the student’s IEP team meeting indicated that, once it received information from the student’s private doctor, the district would amend the student’s IEP to start language services.  Even though the student ultimately was not diagnosed with CAPD, there was no dispute that he required speech and language services.  Accordingly, the district’s failure to provide such services denied the student a FAPE.

As a result of the student’s inadequate progress, in their view, the parents unilaterally placed him in a private program.  However, by the time they made their unilateral placement, the IEP team had already met on multiple occasions and amended the student’s IEP to include speech and language services and goals (the IEP’s only deficiencies).  Accordingly, the court denied the parents’ request for reimbursement, instead finding that the student was only entitled to compensatory education for the speech and language services he did not receive.

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Parent concerns and observations by speech therapist during evaluation require school district to evaluate for possible autism.

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Orange Unified School District v. C.K., 59 IDELR 74 (C.D. Cal. 2012):  A federal district court found for the parents of a child with autism, and determined a school district violated its child find obligation by failing to evaluate the child for suspected autism.  Due to the district’s failure to so evaluate, it was unable to develop an appropriate IEP.

The student’s parents referred him for an evaluation, and described symptoms consistent with autism (including that, as a six-year-old, he was not toilet trained, did not make eye contact, and his vocabulary consisted of a maximum of three words).  The district administered a speech and language evaluation, and the speech pathologist noticed the student’s need of frequent prompts and poor attending skills.  Due to her observations, the speech pathologist referred the student for a psychoeducational evaluation (with particular consideration of a special day class).

Despite these observations and referrals, the district failed to evaluate the student for behavioral disorders or autism.  The district developed the student’s IEP without such information, and failed to provide behavior therapy.  Although the student was subsequently diagnosed with autism, the district continued to fail to provide a sufficient level of behavior therapy.  Accordingly, the parents withdrew the student from his public placement in favor of a private program more suited to his needs.  As a result of such failures, the Court determined the student was not only entitled to reimbursement for the unilateral placement, but also entitled to compensatory education for the school’s failure to provide a FAPE while he attended his public program.

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Districts should evaluate students with peanut allergies for possible accommodations under Section 504.

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Virginia Beach (VA) City Public Schools, 59 IDELR 54 (OCR 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) informed a school district that it must evaluate students with peanut and/or tree nut allergies under Section 504.  The district regularly provided its students with nut allergies “Life-threatening Allergy Management Plans” (LAMPs), but did not routinely evaluate each of them to determine their need for special education or related services.  OCR noted that districts must take steps to ensure the school environment is as safe for students with disabilities as it is for students without disabilities.  In addition, districts cannot simply wait for parents of students with nut allergies to ask for an evaluation under Section 504.  Rather, districts have an affirmative “child-find” duty to locate students with disabilities.  Since the LAMPs were not typically specific to each individual child with a nut allergy, they could not address the individual needs of such students in their various school environments.  Accordingly, the district agreed to evaluate students with LAMPs under Section 504.

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