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Posts Tagged ‘methodology’

School’s use of evidence relating to specific methodology allowed parent to challenge appropriateness of that methodology

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Y.S. v. New York City Department of Education, 62 IDELR 56 (S.D.N.Y. 2013): The New York State Review Officer (SRO) denied the parent’s request for reimbursement, refusing to consider the parents’ evidence regarding the appropriate methodology to teach their child on the autism spectrum since the parents failed to identify that specific issue in their due process complaint (moreover, the selection of a specific methodology is typically within the purview of the school).  However, a federal district court remanded a matter to the SRO with instructions to review additional arguments.  The Court noted that the school district, through its submission of evidence relating to the methodology the district selected, opened the door for the parents to submit their own evidence as a rebuttal to the district’s.  Accordingly, the SRO’s failure to consider the parents’ evidence and arguments regarding methodology was improper and required remand for such consideration.

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Specially designed instruction must be included on an IEP, even if it constitutes a “best teaching practice” or is part of the district’s regular curriculum.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Letter to Chambers, 59 IDELR 170 (OSEP 2012):  The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs informed a special education advocate that a school district cannot avoid including specific services on a student’s IEP simply because such services are considered “best teaching practices” or “part of the district’s regular education program.”  A child’s unique needs must be addressed, even if the nature of the instruction provided is also provided to other children (with or without disabilities).

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District was not required to choose reading program based on optimal level of peer-reviewed research, or the reading program preferred by the parents.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Ridley School District v. E.R., 58 IDELR 271 (3d Cir. 2012):  A federal Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s determination that a school district offered a free appropriate public education to a student with specific learning disabilities.  The parents alleged the district denied a FAPE by failing to provide a “scientifically research based, peer reviewed reading program” to their daughter.

The student demonstrated difficulty with reading, and received intervention (including a placement in a reading support group) prior to her classification as a student with a disability.  As the district developed the student’s initial IEP, it recommended a specific reading program (Project Read).  The parents requested the district hire someone to provide instruction in the Wilson Reading System.  After the district declined, the parents indicated they would enroll the student in a private school that used the “intensive multi-sensory” reading approach the student required.

The hearing officer found Project Read insufficient, since there were “flaws in the research supporting it.”  Therefore, it was not suitable as a scientifically research based instruction program.    The district court disagreed, and overturned the hearing officer.  The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court.  The parents alleged, in essence, that there were flaws in Project Read’s underlying research, and the research did not demonstrate the program’s effectiveness for the student’s disabilities.  The Court disagreed, noting a sufficient amount of research supporting Project Read and that the IDEA does not require a program “supported by the optimal level of peer-reviewed research.”  Similarly, the district is not required to choose the specific program requested by parents.  Accordingly, the district offered the student a FAPE, which foreclosed the parents’ claim for tuition reimbursement.

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Despite parent’s preference for ABA, TEACCH methodology was appropriate to meet autistic student’s needs

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

In re Student with a Disability, 58 IDELR 118 (SEA NY 2011): The New York State Review Officer (SRO) overturned the decision of an impartial hearing officer (IHO) who had awarded private school tuition reimbursement to the parent of an autistic student in part because the IHO determined that the methodology that would have been utilized in the recommended placement – Treatment and Education of Autistic and other Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) – would not have appropriately met the student’s needs.  The parent had unilaterally placed the student in a private school that utilized Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).  The SRO noted that although the method that would have been utilized by the school district was not specified in the student’s IEP, such method generally does not have to be specified in an IEP since it is usually a matter to be left to the teacher.  The parent was concerned that the TEACCH approach relied on students having the ability to maintain a level of independence, and the student did not have such ability.  However, the SRO disagreed with the IHO and found support in the record that the TEACCH approach would have appropriately met the student’s needs.

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Failure to include BIP and plan to transition student back to public school in the IEP were procedural errors, which did not deprive student of a FAPE

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Park Hill School District v. Dass, 57 IDELR 121 (8th Cir. 2011): The court determined that the school district did not deny a student with autism a FAPE, where a behavior intervention plan (BIP) and a plan to transition the student back to the public school setting were not incorporated into the student’s IEP.  The court reasoned that the failure to include such provisions in the student’s IEP was, at most, a procedural violation of the law.  If the transition services and BIP actually provided to the student were inadequate, this would be a substantive violation.  In this case, however, the parents refused to give the school district an opportunity to provide the student with services when they removed the student from the school district and placed him in a private school.  The school district presented testimony at the due process hearing that had the student attended the recommended placement, it would have used teaching methods and strategies that worked with other students with autism in the school district, and if these strategies proved unsuccessful for the student, the school district would have conducted an FBA.

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Sign language generally is a mode of communication, while the specific form of sign language used is a methodology to be chosen by the program.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

N.T. v. Seattle School District, 57 IDELR 249 (W.D. Wash. 2011):  A U.S. District Court ruled in favor a school district regarding its proposed placement of a deaf student in its deaf and hard of hearing program.  By so ruling, the Court denied the parents of the student reimbursement for their private placement.

Evaluations of the student recommended a placement using a total communication program.  Accordingly, the district proposed placing the student in its deaf and hard of hearing program, which was a total communication program using “all available means to ensure communication between the instructional staff and the students.”  The parents disagreed with the proposed placement, arguing that the student needed a program using signing exact English with simultaneous spoken English and the district’s program inconsistently used the parents’ preferred signing method.

The Court upheld an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) determination that the parents failed to show the district’s program was inappropriate, noting that the student’s mode of communication was sign language generally, and not the specific method of signing the parents sought.  Therefore, the dispute over the form of sign language used in the program amounted to a dispute over methodology and not mode of communication more broadly.  Accordingly, the parents did not meet their burden of demonstrating the proposed district program was inappropriate.  As a result, they were not entitled to reimbursement for their unilateral placement of the student in a private program.

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School district does not have to offer specific reading program requested by a parent in order to provide a free appropriate public education.

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

D.G. v. Cooperstown Central School District, 55 IDELR 155 (N.D.N.Y. 2010):  A U.S. District Court upheld a New York State Review Officer decision dismissing a parent’s appeal relating to her alleged denial of a free appropriate public education for her son.

The student was diagnosed with dyslexia, and benefitted from a multi-sensory reading program.  The parent requested a reading program that was “Orton-Gillingham” based, specifically the Wilson Reading Program.  The school district agreed to have two teachers trained in the Wilson program, but the training never happened due to “weather related reasons.”  However, the teachers were trained in other multi-sensory reading programs.  The Court noted that the parent failed to draw attention to “any inadequacies in the District’s reading programs” instead focusing on the “superiority of the Wilson program” and the private school in which she placed her son.  However, the school district “did not fail to provide D.G. a free appropriate public education by utilizing other proven methods” and, therefore, the parent was not entitled to tuition reimbursement.

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Parents awarded reimbursement for placement of autistic child at private school for children with autism since public school’s IEP and recommended placement were inappropriate

Monday, March 28th, 2011

M.H. and E.K. v. New York City Department of Education, 54 IDELR 221 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  The district court ruled that the parents of a student with autism were entitled to tuition reimbursement for their unilateral placement of the student at a private school for children with autism.  The Court deferred to the Impartial Hearing Officer’s (IHO’s) conclusion that the program proposed by the public school, which was to utilize different methodologies in addressing the student’s behaviors with an emphasis on TEACCH, was inappropriate.  The IHO concluded that the appropriate methodology for the student was 1:1 discrete trial Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA).  Although the evidence showed that the student required 1:1 educational support, the student would not have such an intense level of support in the school district’s proposed placement.  Moreover, the Court agreed with the IHO’s conclusion that the unilateral placement was the student’s least restrictive environment since the student required the intensive 1:1 ABA program in order to make progress.  The public school’s proposed placement would not have been appropriate for the student since the student was much more advanced than the other student’s in the public school classroom.

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Efforts to include parents at IEP meeting supported school district’s refusal to pay private school tuition reimbursement

Friday, December 17th, 2010

J.G. v. Briarcliff Manor Union Free School District, 54 IDELR 20 (S.D.N.Y. 2010):  The court agreed with the State Review Officer (and hearing officer)’s decision to deny the parents’ claim for private school tuition reimbursement for the unilateral placement of their child, a student with dyslexia.  The court concluded that the student’s IEP adequately assessed the student’s present levels of educational performance and adequately addressed the student’s social and emotional needs as well as the parents’ concerns regarding the student’s reading deficits. The parents also complained that the IEP did not specifically state that that the District would use the Lindamood-Bell or Orton-Gillingham methodologies.  Furthermore, the court concluded that although the parents’ were absent from the IEP meeting, they were afforded an opportunity to participate in the meeting and declined the opportunity to participate by telephone.  The school district’s documented attempts to arrange for the parents attendance at the meeting, including the offer to participate by phone, was sufficient to satisfy the school district’s legal obligation to arrange for the parents’ attendance.

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Student’s slow progress resulted from her cognitive impairments and not from denial of FAPE

Friday, December 17th, 2010

K.S. v. Fremont Unified School District, 53 IDELR 287 (N.D. Cal. 2009):  The Court agreed with the Administrative Law Judge’s conclusion that the student’s slow progress was attributed to the student’s autism and cognitive impairments and was not an indication that she was denied a FAPE.  The fact that the student achieved, but did not surpass, the majority of her goals on her IEP, tended to show that the IEP was developed appropriately.  The court also rejected the parent’s argument that the student’s IEP was deficient because it did not include thirty hours per week of intensive ABA therapy.  The court concluded that the parent was not entitled to mandate the school district to select a particular methodology among many alternatives as long as the methodology chosen by the school district was otherwise sufficient.

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