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Posts Tagged ‘hearing impairment’

Withdrawal of IDEA consent does not automatically withdraw 504 consent

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

D.F. v. Leon County School Board, 62 IDELR 167 (N.D. Fla. 2014): A federal district court permitted a suit by the parent of a student with a hearing impairment to continue, notwithstanding the parent’s withdrawal of consent for services in accordance with the IDEA.  The school district argued that the parent’s withdrawal of consent applied not only to IDEA services, but also any services which would be required under Section 504 or the ADA.  The court, however, held that the parent’s 504 and ADA claims could proceed since, as part of her withdrawal of consent, she requested services (such as technology to assist the student in the classroom) in accordance with Section 504.  The court noted that a parent’s refusal to consent to a more comprehensive IEP does not necessarily authorize a school “to refuse to provide technology to help a student hear in other classes.”

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Failure to implement and revise IEP to address ongoing harassment may render school district liable under Section 504

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Stewart v. Waco Independent School District, 60 IDELR 241 (5th Cir. 2013):  A federal court of appeals allowed a student’s claims relating to alleged harassment to proceed under Section 504, noting that, if taken as true, they could demonstrate that the school district exercised gross misjudgment.  The student, diagnosed with mental retardation, speech impairment, and hearing impairment, alleged she was subject to several instances of sexual harassment and abuse by peers, and that such instances directly resulted from the school district’s failure to implement the safety measures built in to the student’s IEP.  She also claimed that the school failed to revise her IEP to prevent harassment from recurring.

The court denied relief asserted under a theory of deliberate indifference, since the student failed to allege enough facts to meet that threshold.  However, the court permitted the case to proceed under a theory of gross misjudgment, noting that, when viewed favorably to the student, her allegations could show that the district’s course of action went “strongly against the grain of accepted standards of educational practice” if the district failed to satisfy an ongoing responsibility to provide the student with reasonable accommodations necessary to mitigate or eliminate the sexual harassment and abuse.

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District should have adequate back-up plan in case accommodations become temporarily unavailable.

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Bellingham (MA) Public Schools, 59 IDELR 142 (OCR 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) concluded that a school district failed to comply with Section 504 when it lacked an adequate back-up plan for a student with a hearing impairment while his FM system was out for repair.  The student required use of the FM system to adequately access his educational program, however his FM system constantly broke down early in the school year.  Implementation of the FM system was sporadic through the end of October, when it was finally repaired by the manufacturer.  However, while it was unavailable, the district had no alternate accommodation to allow the student adequate access to his education.  Accordingly, the district violated Section 504.

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School must provide assistive listening devices to individuals with hearing impairments, as well as provide information as to how to obtain such accommodations.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Los Angeles County (CA) Office of Education, 57 IDELR 294 (OCR 2011):  The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) found a school district in violation of Section 504 for its failure to make assistive listening devices (ALDs) available to individuals with hearing impairments, as well as its failure to provide sufficient information to the public regarding how ALDs can be obtained.

The district renovated some of its facilities by installing new public address systems in an auditorium and board meeting room.  As part of the renovations, the district secured ALDs for such public address systems.  However, the district needed to ensure that a sufficient number of permanently installed ALDs were available for each venue.  The district remedied the deficiency by installing more ALDs.

Additionally, the district agreed to post information at each venue explaining how anyone in need of an ALD may obtain one.  Similarly, the district agreed to disseminate information on its website and to parents, students, staff, and the public, regarding how anyone in need of an ALD may obtain one (including which staff member was designated as coordinating the district’s compliance with Section 504 and the ADA).  Once complete, the district’s noncompliance would be remedied.

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Federal government enacts law to provide people with disabilities greater access to contemporary communication devices.

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the “Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act.”  The law provides individuals with disabilities greater access to contemporary technology devices, including mobile phones and apparatus equipped for video programming (such as televisions).

Highlights of the bill include requiring mobile phone providers to ensure that any mobile phones equipped with web browsers, text messaging, and e-mail are accessible to individuals with disabilities (and individuals with visual or hearing impairments in particular).  For example, internet-enabled mobile phones must be hearing aid compatible.  Additionally, television manufacturers, as well as television programming services, must ensure that their devices, programs, and services enable individuals with disabilities, but visually impaired individuals in particular, to access on-screen guides and menus, as well as emergency broadcast information.  The law now requires that certain video playback devices include features to allow for real-time audio description of various on-screen features, including program guides, menus, and emergency broadcast information.

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Student’s temporary placement in wrong class did not result in a loss of educational benefit to warrant an award of compensatory education.

Friday, April 29th, 2011

In re Student With a Disability, 55 IDELR 25 (NY SRO 2010):  The New York State Education Department’s State Review Officer upheld a decision by an impartial hearing officer (IHO) that compensatory education was not warranted in light of a school district’s failure to place a student with a hearing impairment in the proper class.

According to records in the student’s file, the student was supposed to be placed in a collaborative team teaching (CTT) class for the 2009-10 school year.  However, at the IEP team meeting that created the student 2009-10 IEP, the IEP team recommended the student attend a 15:1 self-contained class.  As a result, the student was placed in a self-contained class from September of 2009 until November of 2009.  Once the parent complained, the student was moved to the appropriate class.

The IHO found, and the SRO agreed, that this brief placement in the wrong classroom setting did not result in a loss of any educational benefit to the student.  In addition to the student’s hearing impairment, she also had “inconsistent attendance” with a high number of absences.  Any loss of educational benefit during the time the student was incorrectly placed in the self-contained class stemmed from her inconsistent attendance, and not the wrong classroom.  As a result, the IHO and SRO both found that the student was incorrectly placed in the self-contained class, but that, because she suffered no loss of educational benefit, she was not entitled to any compensatory education.

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