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

Posts Tagged ‘LRE’

District can be held responsible for private school tuition when it fails to consider an inclusion setting with a 1:1 aide

Monday, April 15th, 2013

G.B. and L.B. ex rel. N.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free Sch. Dist., 60 IDELR 2 (2d Cir. 2012)—the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s decision that a school district denied FAPE to a student with pervasive developmental disorder by offering an overly restrictive placement. Thus, the Federal Court upheld the parent’s entitlement to tuition reimbursement for the child’s private inclusion preschool program. The school district should have considered whether the child could participate in an inclusion classroom with the help of a 1:1 aide. NOTE: this decision has not been released for publication in official or permanent law reports, per court order. To view the blog posting regarding the lower court case, see N.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free Sch. Dist., 55 IDELR 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), posted on April 28, 2011.

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Parent denied reimbursement where student made progress under prior IEP.

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Dzugas-Smith v. Southold Union Free School District, 59 IDELR 8 (E.D.N.Y. 2012):  A U.S. District Court affirmed the decisions of administrative officers denying parents of a student with learning disabilities reimbursement for a unilateral placement.  The administrative officers (including hearing officer, and State Review Officer) consistently concluded that the student’s demonstrated progress in her program prior to her unilateral placement showed the program offered by the district provided a FAPE.

The student had a history of developmental and learning problems, and was classified as a student with a disability for fifth and sixth grade.  From fifth to sixth grade, the student demonstrated a certain degree of progress on both her report card and state level assessments.  The district recommended the student continue in a similar program for seventh grade, but the parents disagreed and sought a private school placement.  The hearing officers and SRO both gave weight to the noted progress, and found the public program to be the least restrictive environment appropriate for the student.  Accordingly, reimbursement was denied.

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School district’s discontinuation of student’s 1:1 aide appropriate where student would be instructed by a special education teacher in small group.

Friday, December 16th, 2011

E.D. v. Bedford Central School District, 57 IDELR 191 (S.D.N.Y. 2011):  A U.S. District Court upheld the New York State Review Officer’s (SRO’s) decision that the school district offered an appropriate program to a student with specific learning disabilities and ADHD.  As a result, the student’s parents’ claim for tuition reimbursement was denied.

The student previously received the services of a 1:1 aide while in elementary school to address his attention issues due to the student’s placement in a general education classroom.  As the student moved to middle school, the district discontinued the 1:1 aide and instead placed the student in integrated co-teaching classrooms for math and ELA, and also assigned a consultant teacher for his other core academic classes.  In each of these classes, a special education teacher would be modifying the general instruction for a group of students, with a maximum of six students in each group.

In addition to the specialized instruction, the student was also to receive instruction in a building level support class to allow his special education teacher the opportunity to reinforce concepts and preview materials.  Also, the student’s IEP provided for speech services and counseling to address language deficiencies and social/emotional issues.  In light of all the services offered, the SRO determined (and the Court agreed) that the student’s varied needs would have been met and the district therefore offered an appropriate program.  Accordingly, the parents’ request for tuition reimbursement for their unilateral placement was denied.

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Parents denied tuition reimbursement where private placement was too restrictive.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

B.D.-S. v. Southold Union Free School District, 57 IDELR 164 (E.D.N.Y. 2011): A U.S. District Court held that parents of a student classified as learning disabled were not entitled to reimbursement for tuition at a unilateral private placement. The private placement was too restrictive (and therefore inappropriate).

The school district conceded that, for the year in dispute, it did not provide the student with a free appropriate public education. Therefore, the only issues before the Court were whether the private placement was appropriate, and whether the equities favored the parents. The student had a language based learning disability, and attended a private residential school out of state.

In the underlying administrative proceedings, both the impartial hearing officer (IHO) and State Review Officer (SRO) found the private placement too restrictive (and therefore inappropriate). Although, the evidence demonstrated that the student made progress at the private placement, both the IHO and SRO determined that the student did not demonstrate any need for a residential setting in which the student was “managed from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed.” Agreeing that the private placement was too restrictive and, accordingly, inappropriate, the Court denied the parents tuition reimbursement.

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Parent denied reimbursement where unilateral placement was too restrictive, and therefore inappropriate.

Monday, June 27th, 2011

J.G. v. New York City Department of Education, 56 IDELR 68 (S.D.N.Y. 2011):  A U.S. District Court denied a parent of a child with ADHD (classified as other health impaired) reimbursement for a private, residential school located out of state.  The school district had previously paid private tuition for the student, including all or part of the student’s tuition at the out-of-state residential school for at least two years.  However, the school district ultimately declassified the student, resulting in the parent’s unilateral placement.

The school district (untypically) conceded it did not offer the student a FAPE, leaving the Court to analyze the appropriateness of the private placement chosen by the parent.  After reviewing the administrative record, the Court found such private placement to be too restrictive.  The Court stated that the record did not demonstrate that the student required the intense level of service provided at the private school.  The Court, noting that the parent did not demonstrate that the student required a setting limited solely to learning disabled students or a setting with a 6:1 teacher ratio, let alone a residential placement, determined that the parent’s unilateral placement was too restrictive and denied reimbursement.

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School district violates least restrictive environment requirement when it fails to fully consider an integrated setting for a student with an autism spectrum disorder.

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

N.B. v. Tuxedo Union Free School District, 55 IDELR 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court overturned the New York State Review Officer in relation to a child with an autism spectrum disorder who the school district sought to place in a self-contained out-of-district program.  The student’s parents argued that the student needed to be with her non-disabled peers, which required placement in an integrated class.

The student, while in preschool, attended a program that was essentially integrated since the preschool chosen by the school district ultimately included four non-disabled children in its program.  However, the student’s parents removed her from that program due to the school district’s failure to provide the 1:1 aide the student needed.  The parents placed the student in a private, integrated preschool program, paid for a 1:1 aide, and the student made significant progress.

The school district recommended a self-contained out-of-district BOCES program following preschool, where the student would have little interaction with her non-disabled peers.  The parents argued that the student required interaction with non-disabled peers, since she modeled the behavior she observed and it was crucial to her development.  Several experts supported the parents.  The district relied on the student’s standardized testing to argue she required the self-contained class to reduce distractions.  The recommendation included “boilerplate” and “conclusory” language about rejecting an integrated class.

The Court found that the school district did not properly review the student’s ability to participate in an integrated class with supports (here, a 1:1 aide).  As a result, it violated the least restrictive environment requirement and its proposed IEP was inappropriate.  Since the private placement chosen by the parents was appropriate, they were entitled to reimbursement (although reimbursement was to be reduced in part due to the parents’ failure to timely notify the district of their intention to remove the student and place her privately).

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School district predetermined student’s program.

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

H.B. v. Gloucester Township School District, 55 IDELR 224 (D.N.J. 2010):  A U.S. District Court held that a school district predetermined the placement of a student with autism.  The school district failed to provide the parents with meaningful participation in the development of the student’s IEP, and therefore violated the IDEA.

The school district concluded, in anticipation of the IEP team meetings for the student, that the appropriate program was in the district’s full-time autism program, with limited interaction with non-disabled peers.  Consequently, the IEP team failed to address (both at the IEP team meeting and afterward) the student’s parents’ repeated requests to discuss alternative programs.  The district’s representative indicated an integrated class was “removed from consideration” because it was already determined inappropriate.  Alternative programs were similarly removed from consideration as presumptively inappropriate.  As a result, the school district violated the IDEA because the IEPs were predetermined.

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Parentally chosen private preschool does not become a default placement when a school district does not offer its own general preschool program.

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

R.H. v. Plano Independent School District, 54 IDELR 211 (5th Cir. 2010):  A U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the argument by parents of a four-year-old child with autism and a speech and language impairment that when a school district does not run its own mainstreamed preschool program, the one chosen by the parents becomes the child’s placement by default.

The parents disputed the appropriateness of the school district’s recommended placement since the student would not interact as much with his non-disabled peers in the district’s placement.  The school district placed the student in a class that included both special education and typically developing students (the parents had initially placed the student in a program in which the ratio of typically developing students to special education students was higher).  Additionally, the school district’s placement offered occupational therapy and speech therapy, while the program the parents chose could not offer such services.

The student was enrolled in the district’s placement, but the parents ultimately determined that the student was regressing and instead decided to place him back at the preschool of their choosing.  However, that program was not certified in special education and, for the summer period for which the parents sought reimbursement, offered little, if any, actual education programming at all.

The parents argued that when the school district does not offer purely mainstreamed public preschool classes, the presumption should be that the student be placed by default in the only mainstream program available (that chosen by the parents), as the least restrictive environment.  The Court rejected that argument, saying instead that private schools not chosen by the district should be the last resort.  As a result, the parents were denied reimbursement.

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