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Posts Tagged ‘IEP Team’

Improper IEP Team meeting invalidates IEP

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

R.G. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 84 (E.D.N.Y. 2013): A U.S. District Court held that a school district denied a student on the autism spectrum a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to include a general education teacher as part of the student’s IEP team.  The student was transitioning from preschool to kindergarten, and had attended a general education preschool classroom with special education support (including an itinerant teacher and applied behavioral analyst).  Despite the student’s previous general education placement, her IEP team set to develop her IEP for her kindergarten school year did not include a general education teacher.  Moreover, the chair of the IEP team, the school district psychologist who conducted the student’s evaluation, failed to share all the information contained in her evaluation and did not adequately explore the various service providers’ recommendations that the student continue in a general education setting for kindergarten.  Together, the absence of a general education teacher and failure to adequately review the prospects of a general education placement, constituted a procedural violation which rendered the IEP team’s ultimate recommendation, a self-contained special education classroom, inappropriate.

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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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States may not rely solely on “cut score” for SLD eligibility

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Letter to Delisle, 62 IDELR 240 (OSEP 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) reiterated its position that gifted students (i.e. – students with high cognition) may still be eligible for services under the IDEA if such students require special education and related services.  OSEP noted that, since the IDEA requires the use of various assessments, an IEP team would not be able to deny a student eligibility on the basis that such student scored above a particular “cut” score on a particular assessment.  OSEP noted “no assessment, in isolation, is sufficient to indicate that a child has a [specified learning disability].”

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Cost of IEE includes presentation to IEP team

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Meridian Joint School District, No. 2 v. D.A., 62 IDELR 144 (D. Idaho 2014): A federal district court awarded a parent of a student on the autism spectrum reimbursement for an independent educational evaluation (IEE), with such reimbursement to include the private evaluator’s presentation of her findings to the IEP team.  Noting that the parents’ “right to an IEE, let alone their right to participate in decisions on the educational placement” of their son “would mean little if they were left to challenge the District’s experts with a partial assessment or ‘without an expert with the firepower to match the opposition’”, the Court awarded the parents reimbursement for the expenses incurred by the private evaluator in presenting her evaluation to the IEP team.

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Districts must decide starting date of related services on individual basis.

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Letter to Ackerhalt, 60 IDELR 21 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) informed a parent’s attorney that school districts cannot implement district-wide policies which prevent implementation of related services specified on IEPs until the third week of school.  OSEP noted that the projected date for the beginning of a related service must be based on the student’s individual needs, as determined by the IEP team.  Therefore, “a policy that mandates that related services for all children with disabilities will begin at a specific time after the beginning of the school year” is inconsistent with federal regulations.

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IEP team must convene to develop interim program for transfer student.

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Letter to Finch, 59 IDELR 15 (OSEP 2012):  The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs informed a special education director that when a school district determines the interim program for a transfer student, such interim program must be developed by the IEP team and include the federally mandated members.  However, the parent may consent to the absence of any mandatory member, and may similarly agree to make changes in writing as opposed to convening a meeting.

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Related service providers may only be excused from IEP team meetings on case-by-case basis.

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Letter to Rangel-Diaz, 58 IDELR 78 (OSEP 2011):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) advised a special education advocate that a school district cannot implement a practice of excluding related service providers from IEP team meetings.

OSEP noted that if a related service provider is a required IEP team member (based on the state’s definition of special education, or if the student requires related services), the only way the related service provider may be excused from attending the IEP team meeting is if the parent provides written consent, and the related service provider submits written input to the IEP team prior to the meeting.  OSEP said it “expects excusal decisions to be made on a individualized, case-by-case basis.”  If a school district routinely, or unilaterally, excused required IEP team members from attending IEP team meetings, OSEP would consider such district noncompliant with the IDEA.

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Massachusetts provides guidance to school districts relating to bullying policies and procedures.

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

The Massachusetts Education Department provided guidance to its school districts regarding required bullying prevention and intervention plans.  A copy of such guidance can be found here.

The guidance indicates that bullying prevention and, in turn, bullying prevention plans, must include and identify school community leaders and solicit their input.  For example, consultation within the school community must include a public comment period before a bullying plan is adopted.

The plan itself should be the school district’s blueprint for preventing and responding to instances of bullying.  The state guidance identifies ten specific aspects of any bullying plan (and also strongly suggests identifying which school community leaders are responsible for which aspects).  In any event, the bullying plan must include a strategy for counseling and referral to appropriate services for both aggressors and targets, and must include appropriate guidance for principals (or other school designees) who will be responsible for investigating (including prompt notification to the parents of aggressors and targets) and responding to incidents of bullying.

The guidance specifically identifies students with disabilities as potential targets, and indicates that IEP teams should consider how to prevent or respond to bullying in students’ IEPs, when necessary, but especially for students with disabilities (such as autism) that affect social skills development.

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Failure to incorporate behavior intervention plan and parent training into autistic student’s IEP contributed to a denial of FAPE and entitled parents to full reimbursement for private school placement

Monday, June 20th, 2011

R.K. v. New York City Department of Education, 56 IDELR 168 adopted at 56 IDELR 212 (E.D.N.Y. 2011): The district court agreed with an impartial hearing officer’s (IHO’s) decision (which had been overturned by the state review officer (SRO)) that the failure to incorporate a behavior intervention plan (BIP) into an autistic student’s IEP contributed to a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and entitled the student’s parents to tuition reimbursement for their unilateral private school placement.  The court was not satisfied with testimony from a teacher that she would have developed a BIP had the student attended the recommended public school placement.  The court stated that it is the responsibility of the IEP team to conduct a functional behavioral analysis (FBA) and incorporate a BIP into the student’s IEP.

Also contributing to the denial of FAPE was the school district’s failure to incorporate parent counseling and training, which is required to be provided to the parents of autistic students by New York state law, into the student’s IEP.  The school district also violated New York state law by failing to provide the student with speech and language therapy for 30-minutes daily, which was required by the state regulations at that time.  The Court also determined that the recommended 6:1:1 classroom placement was not restrictive enough for the student’s extensive needs.

However, the school district did not violate the parent’s rights to participate in the IEP process by failing to allow them to participate in the selection of the physical location of the student’s recommended program.  While parents should be afforded the opportunity to participate in the selection of their child’s “educational placement,” this term refers only to the general type of educational program in which the student is placed.

Moreover, the court overturned the portion of the IHO’s decision that had awarded the parent’s only partial reimbursement for the unilateral private school placement.  Although the IHO determined that the private placement met only part of the student’s special educational needs, such shortcomings should have only been considered as factors in evaluating the placement as a whole.  Since the placement provided the student with an education specifically designed to meet the student’s needs, the parents were entitled to full tuition reimbursement.

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School district violated child-find obligation by failing to evaluate student in all areas of his suspected disability

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

School Board of the City of Norfolk v. Brown, 56 IDELR 18 (E.D. Va. 2010): Although a school district had previously evaluated and classified a student with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder as a student with a disability under the category of “other health impairment,” the court affirmed the decision of an impartial hearing officer who had concluded that the school district had violated its child-find obligations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to evaluate the student in all areas of his suspected disability.  The school district should have also provided the student with a functional behavioral analysis (FBA) and behavior intervention plan (BIP) due to the evidence of the student’s history of engaging in behaviors that impeded the student’s learning or that of others.

The court also affirmed the hearing officer’s conclusion that the school district violated the IDEA by conducting a procedurally flawed Manifestation Determination Review (MDR) following a behavioral incident that led to a suspension.  In particular, the MDR team failed to consider a psychiatric report that was generated as a direct consequence of the behavioral incident and the MDR team failed to afford the parents an adequate opportunity to participate at the meeting.

Moreover, the court agreed with the hearing officer that the school district procedurally violated the IDEA when it placed the student in an alternative setting during the student’s suspension.  The decision to place the student in the alternative setting was made by the school board, but should have been made by student’s IEP team.  Moreover, the placement substantively violated the IDEA because it was not the least restrictive environment (LRE) in which the student could receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

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