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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘parent participation’

School district did not deny FAPE when parents unreasonably refused to participate in IEP process

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Horen v. Board of Education of the City of Toledo Public School District, 61 IDELR 103 (N.D. Ohio 2013): A federal district court determined that a school district did not fail to provide a free appropriate public education to a student with multiple, severe disabilities.  The student’s parents filed a due process complaint against the school seeking to keep the student in her child care/education center as opposed to being transferred to one of the district’s public schools.

The hearing officer ordered the school to maintain the student at her child care/education center.  However, the parents refused to enroll the student, in either the child care/education center or public school (or, apparently, any school whatsoever).  The school district repeatedly sought to hold an IEP team meeting, but the parents refused to participate in any IEP team meeting (and similarly refused to make the student available for any testing or evaluation) unless and until the school district allowed the parents to tape-record the IEP team meeting.  The parents also insisted that the school’s attorney not attend the IEP team meeting.  Finding that neither of these preconditions were reasonable, the court determined that the parents impeded the IEP process and the child was not denied a FAPE.

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State ban on aversive behavioral interventions complies with IDEA.

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

D.B. v. New York State Education Department, 59 IDELR 151 (2d Cir. 2012):  A federal appeals court determined that a state education department’s ban on the use of aversive interventions did not violate the IDEA.  A class of parents of students with significant behavioral needs sued, arguing that such statewide ban denied students a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

The court concluded that a SEA has the discretion to prohibit “one possible method of dealing with disorders in behavior” without undermining the student’s right to an individualized education.  Here, “aversive intervention” was defined as an intervention “intended to induce pain or discomfort to a student for the purpose of eliminating or reducing maladaptive behaviors.”  In light of the ongoing debate among experts as to the utility of aversive interventions, the court noted it is “ill-suited to decide the winner of that debate.”  Since the ban “prohibits only consideration of a single method of treatment without foreclosing other options” it does not prevent students from receiving an IEP specifically tailored to their individual needs.  Therefore, it did not improperly inhibit parents’ participation in development of the IEP, nor deny FAPE.

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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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School district did not predetermine student’s program just because a district representative indicated she was concerned about the parties’ ability to agree on a placement.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Ka.D. v. Solana Beach School District, 54 IDELR 310 (S.D. Cal. 2010):  A U.S. District Court held that a school district did not predetermine the placement of a student with autism when the district’s special education director indicated to the parents that she anticipated that the parties would not agree on the IEP.

The parents argued that, because the special education director did not expect to agree on an IEP, she was dismissive of any proposal that allowed the student to continue in her current program instead of being placed in a district preschool.  However, after reviewing the record, the Court found that “the student’s mother was a welcomed and active participant in the IEP discussions.”  Therefore, the parents were allowed meaningful participation and the student’s program was not predetermined.

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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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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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