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Posts Tagged ‘IEP team meeting’

Failure to reschedule an IEP team meeting denied student a FAPE.

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

J.T. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 59 IDELR 4 (D. Hawaii 2012):  A U.S. District Court held a school district denied a student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to reschedule an IEP team meeting at the parent’s request, notwithstanding that the parent participated in subsequent IEP team meetings during that school year.

The district scheduled an IEP team meeting on a specific date in order to adhere to its own internal deadlines regarding completion of annual reviews.  However, the parent was unable to attend on that specific date and requested the meeting be rescheduled a few days later.  The district convened the meeting in the parent’s absence to fulfill its deadline, and developed an IEP with goals and objectives identical to previous IEPs.  Although the IEP team met again later in the school year, the parent was not afforded sufficient opportunity to contribute.  Accordingly, the two meetings together amounted to a failure to offer the parent the opportunity for meaningful participation.  Such failure rises to the level of a denial of FAPE and the Court therefore determined the student should be awarded compensatory education.

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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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School district’s failure to consider progress reports and evaluation provided to IEP team at end of meeting was a procedural denial of FAPE.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Aidan M. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii, 56 IDELR 9 (D. Hawaii 2011):  A U.S. District Court found that a school district’s failure to consider an evaluation and progress reports from the student’s private school amounted to procedural denial of FAPE, even though the parents did not provide such documentation until the end of the IEP team meeting.

The IEP team met for the student, diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), in early June, and at the conclusion of that meeting the parents provided documentation from the student’s private school.  The documentation included an evaluation conducted by the private school, as well as progress reports demonstrating the student’s progress during the previous school year.  The IEP team did not review the materials at that meeting, and did not reconvene to review the materials.

The Court noted that “a school district cannot abdicate its affirmative duties under the IDEA, irrespective of parental conduct.”  Although the parents did not provide the documentation they wished to be reviewed by the IEP team until the conclusion of the IEP team meeting, such documentation was still available to the school district prior to the IEP’s implementation and should have been considered by the IEP team prior to the implementation of a new IEP.  The Court understood that procedural violations do not necessarily result in a denial of FAPE, but since the documentation demonstrated the student’s progress during the previous year the Court found that not having the IEP team review the information was “sufficiently grave to warrant” a finding of a denial of FAPE.

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Parents must be allowed to inspect digital recordings of IEP team meetings.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Letter to Cozort, 110 LRP 44375 (FPCO 2010):  The Family Policy Compliance Office determined that FERPA requires that parents and eligible students be allowed to inspect and review all audio and/or video recordings of meetings concerning the student, regardless of the District’s ability to make a copy of the recording, and regardless of whether the parents or eligible student provide the District with a copy of their own record of the meeting.

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School district’s failure to take adequate steps to include parents in an IEP team meeting in which the district made a significant change in placement denied FAPE.

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Board of Education of the Toledo City School District v. Horen, 55 IDELR 102 (N.D. Ohio 2010):  A U.S. District Court ruled that a school district’s failure to take reasonable steps to include the parents in a planned IEP team meeting resulted in a denial of a free appropriate public education for the student, since at the meeting the school district made a significant change in the student’s placement.  However, since the District never implemented its proposed placement and the parents refused to send the child to their preferred placement, the Court determined the parents were not entitled to any relief.

The student, who was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and a mental capacity in the profound range of mental retardation, as well as a blood disorder, received her education in a special school operated by the school district for disabled and medically fragile children.  The special school had no non-disabled students, but did have two full-time nurses available for generally fewer than twenty students.  At a meeting in April of 2006, the school district proposed to change the student’s placement to a disabled-student classroom in a regular elementary building.  The elementary school only had nursing services available two days per week.  However, the student had significant medical needs in light of her seizure disorder, since (in the event of a seizure) medication needed to be administered rectally to prevent a life-threatening situation.  Only one nurse at the elementary school indicated a willingness to so administer the medication.

The parents were not present at the April 2006 IEP team meeting.  They called the school district to cancel the meeting, but had no further discussion with the school district as to convenient times.  However, on the date of the proposed April 2006 IEP team meeting, the parents met, at the school in which the meeting was to occur, with school district representatives.  The parents left without attending the IEP team meeting, and without any notice from anyone at the school that the IEP team meeting was still to occur.  As a result, the Court determined that the school did not take enough steps to ensure the parents’ participation at the IEP team meeting, amounting to a procedural violation.  Since the meeting resulted in the district’s proposal to change the student to the elementary school, with considerably less medical support, the change was deemed too significant to be harmless, and thus denied the student a FAPE.

However, denial of FAPE in this case did not merit any judicial relief.  As part of their due process complaint, the parents requested that the student’s stay-put placement be the special school (which was ultimately determined to be the appropriate overall placement by the Court).  The school district offered to allow the student to continue to attend the special school, but the parents refused to send her to school because they did not trust her teacher.  Since the district never implemented its proposed change in placement and the parents refused to send their child to the special school (which they initially had requested), the Court ruled that they were not entitled to any relief.

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Parental placement outside the geographical boundaries of the school district relieves the district of obligation to provide services to the student.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

T.C. v. Klein Independent School District, 54 IDELR 187 (S.D. Tex. 2010):  A U.S. District Court determined that once a student begins attending school outside the geographic boundaries of the school district, that school district is no longer obligated to provide special education and related services.

Under state law, a number of the parent’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations.  However, the parent still argued that the school district had a responsibility to hold its annual IEP team meeting relating to the program for the student (who was diagnosed with ADHD, manifesting itself as severe bipolar disorder, anxiety, and oppositional defiant disorder), even though she was then receiving special education and related services at a program in a different state.  The Court rejected that argument, saying the school district had “no obligation” to hold an IEP team meeting “when her parents moved her to a private school outside the district’s jurisdiction.”  As a result, the student’s parents were denied any relief.

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School district was denied attorneys’ fees since parent’s attorneys claim that the district had a responsibility to hold an IEP team meeting for a student who wished to re-enroll was not unreasonable or frivolous.

Monday, November 15th, 2010

District of Columbia v. West, 54 IDELR 117 (D.D.C. 2010):  A U.S. District Court ruled that attorneys for a parent in an IDEA dispute did not bring an unreasonable or frivolous claim, which would have entitled the school district to an award of attorneys’ fees.

The student accepted a certificate of completion, and indicated she did not wish to return to her high school.  As a result, she was no longer enrolled with the school district.  However, over the summer, the student changed her mind about returning.  Due to the student’s change of mind, her mother requested an IEP team meeting.  The school district, however, did not arrange such a meeting, saying they could only arrange one once the student formally re-enrolled.  The student had not re-enrolled at the time of the initial due process hearing, and although she was enrolled prior to the second due process hearing, no IEP team meeting was requested after her re-enrollment.

The school district argued that, since it had no obligation to hold an IEP team meeting for a student who was not enrolled, the parent’s due process claims were frivolous and unreasonable.  However, the Court rejected that argument noting that the school district has a responsibility to those students who reside within their boundaries, and not just to those students enrolled with the district.

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