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The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘reactive attachment disorder’

Student’s progress at alternative high school negates need for residential placement

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

S.H. v. Eastchester Union Free School District, 58 IDELR 46 (S.D.N.Y. 2011): The parents of a student diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Learning Disorder, Impulse Control Disorder, and Depressive Disorder were denied reimbursement for their child’s unilateral placement at a private residential school.  The Court concluded that school district’s recommended placement at an alternative high school was appropriate since it was substantially similar to the program the student received the year prior (where he made progress).  The fact that the school district’s proposed placement lacked staff specifically trained in Reactive Attachment Disorder did not deny the student a FAPE.  Rather, the proper inquiry is whether the staff is able to implement the IEP, and the Court found that the staff was so able.  In addition, neither the school district’s failure to include staff from the residential school at the IEP meeting, nor the school district’s failure to provide the student with a functional behavioral assessment (FBA), resulted in a denial of FAPE.

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Parent’s removal of student from public school did not excuse school district’s failure to develop IEP

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Department of Education, State of Hawaii v. M.F., 58 IDELR 34 (D. Hawaii 2011): The federal district court stated that although a parent removed a student, classified as emotionally disturbed (due to her diagnoses of reactive attachment disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, gender identity disorder, and major depressive disorder) from a public school, the public school district still should at least have attempted to prepare IEPs for the beginning of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years.  The IDEA requires a school district to give a parent prior written notice before special education and related services are discontinued, and the parent’s removal of the student did not excuse the school district from this requirement.  However, the federal court vacated and remanded the hearing officer’s decision that the parent was entitled to private school tuition reimbursement.  The court reasoned that the record was silent regarding whether, despite the school district’s procedural violation, the student suffered a “loss of educational opportunity,” since it was unclear whether the parent would have accepted a public school placement even if it was offered.  The court also stated that the hearing officer failed to address equitable considerations regarding the parent’s entitlement to reimbursement, since the parent failed to notify the school district before removing the student from the public school.

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School district must reimburse parents for educationally necessary out-of-state residential placement.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Jefferson County School District R-1 v. Elizabeth E., 57 IDELR 13 (D. Colo. 2011):  A U.S. District Court held that the parents of a student with emotional difficulties were entitled to reimbursement for the student’s placement at a private, therapeutic program out-of-state.

The student, who was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and bipolar disorder, had previously attended a private school for students with behavioral problems.  However, her emotional disabilities required a prolonged hospitalization, after which her parents placed her at a therapeutic program incorporating both academics and psychotherapy.

While the student was hospitalized, her home school district disenrolled her from her previous program and ultimately took the position that it had no obligation to provide special education services, nor any obligation to even evaluate her need for such services, while she was out-of-state.  The hearing officer, administrative law judge, and District Court all agreed that the school district did, in fact, retain the obligation to evaluate the student and provide special education services, and its failure to do so denied the student a FAPE.  Additionally, the psychotherapy component of the student’s private placement was necessary in order for her to make academic progress.  All told, the student’s residential placement was appropriate and her parents were entitled to reimbursement, except for those services provided by a licensed physician (which thereby do not qualify as related services).

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