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The GAP Attorneys Blog

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Posts Tagged ‘intellectual disability’

Failure to include specific standard on IEP goals does not deny FAPE

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

A.M. v. New York City Department of Education, 61 IDELR 214 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): A federal district court upheld the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO) decision that a school district’s failure to identify specific measurement standards for a student’s IEP goals did not deny a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The student, who had diagnoses of an intellectual disability, expressive language disorder, auditory processing disorder, and fine and gross motor and graphomotor deficiencies, had a number of goals and short term objectives on her IEP.  Some of those goals and objectives carried over from one year to the next (and, in at least one instance, were identical notwithstanding that the student had achieved the objective), while others did not include the specific measurement standard by which the student’s progress toward the goal would be analyzed.  The SRO found, however, that failing to include specific measurement standards is not sufficiently serious enough to constitute a denial of FAPE.  The district court agreed, upholding the SRO.

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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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Hearing officer’s valuation of expert testimony entitled to deference.

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Sebastian M. v. King Philip Regional School District, 59 IDELR 61 (1st Cir. 2012):  A federal court of appeals upheld a hearing officer’s ruling against parents of a student with an intellectual disability regarding their request for reimbursement for a unilateral private placement.  The parents argued the hearing officer failed to give sufficient weight to the testimony of their expert witnesses, but the court noted that the hearing officer’s valuation of expert testimony is entitled to judicial deference.  Accordingly, the hearing officer’s giving more weight to the district’s witnesses was proper, and her determination that the district provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE) was affirmed.  As a result, the parents were denied reimbursement.

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