Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher
70 Niagara Street, Suite 200 Buffalo , New York, 14202
Phone: 716-362-1533
Fax: 716-362-1534

The GAP Attorneys Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘specific learning disability’

Student’s progress and expanded IEP demonstrate appropriateness, denying parent reimbursement for unilateral private placement

Monday, June 10th, 2013

McCallion v. Mamaroneck Union Free School District, 60 IDELR 162 (S.D.N.Y. 2013):  A federal district court denied a parent’s request for tuition reimbursement where the student demonstrated progress under his prior IEPs, and the school district worked with the parents to respond to their concerns regarding his program.  Concerned about his ability to make progress in high school based on the programming the school district offered, the parents ultimately enrolled the student (diagnosed with a specific learning disability, as well as ADHD, anxiety and an adjustment disorder) in a private school designed for students with his needs.

Notwithstanding the parents’ unilateral placement, they still participated in an IEP team meeting which resulted in an amended IEP in October of that school year.  Also, the student received passing marks, and progressed from grade to grade prior to the school year in which he was enrolled in the private school.  Since the October IEP incorporated several additional recommendations and accommodations with respect to reading (one of the student’s biggest areas of need), the district offered the student a free appropriate public education and the parents were therefore not entitled to reimbursement.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student’s progress and expanded IEP demonstrate appropriateness, denying parent reimbursement for unilateral private placement

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on District was not required to choose reading program based on optimal level of peer-reviewed research, or the reading program preferred by the parents.

Student with conflicting intelligence test results not eligible for classification in specific learning disability category

Friday, August 17th, 2012

E.M. v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District, 58 IDELR 187 (N.D. Cal. 2012): The Court determined that the school district correctly relied on one intelligence test over another when it determined that a student with an auditory processing disorder did not qualify as a student with a specific learning disability, since there was not a “severe discrepancy” between the student’s intellectual ability and achievement.  The student received a standard scored of 104 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Third Edition (“WISC-III”), administered by an evaluator retained by the student’s parents.  A short time later the student received a standard score of 111 on the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (“K-ABC”), which was administered by the school district.  Having obtained a significantly higher score on the K-ABC, the school district administered another intelligence test, on which the student received a standard score of 98.

The state of California’s regulations state that there is a “severe discrepancy” between ability and achievement when the difference in the standard scores between the two is at least 22.5.   Since the student’s achievement score was an 87 on the WISC-III, there was not a severe discrepancy between the student’s ability and achievement (104 and 87, respectively; difference of 17).  The school district correctly relied on the WISC-III and not the K-ABC since the court concluded that the WISC-III is generally a more reliable measurement of ability, and the score on that test was more reliable since it was much closer to the score of 98 on the third intelligence test administered to the student.

The court also concluded that the student’s auditory processing disorder did not qualify the student as a student with a disability in the “other health impairment” category, since the other health impairment category consists of impairments not otherwise included in the other disability categories under the IDEA.  Since auditory processing disorder falls into the category of a specific learning disability, it cannot simultaneously fall into the category of other health impairment.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student with conflicting intelligence test results not eligible for classification in specific learning disability category

Student may use Section 504 to sue for money damages for her misidentification as disabled.

Monday, July 30th, 2012

A.G. v. Lower Merion School District, 58 IDELR 41 (E.D. Pa. 2011):  A U.S. District Court allowed a former student to sue her previous school district for misidentifying her as a student with a disability.

The school district had classified the student as having a specific learning disability and speech and language disorder when she was in elementary school.  As part of a subsequent re-evaluation, the district determined the student no longer qualified as having a specific learning disability, but was still a student with a disability with an other health impairment (namely, organizational and attention issues).  Following the student’s graduation, she brought suit under Section 504 alleging discrimination by regarding her as disabled.  Specifically, she claimed that the school district incorrectly identified her as disabled and improperly placed her in a special education program.  The student sought money damages for the psychological impact of her misidentification, as well as her economic loss for placement in special education.

The school district moved to dismiss, but the Court allowed the case to proceed noting that the student should have the opportunity to discover facts regarding her claim for compensatory damages.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student may use Section 504 to sue for money damages for her misidentification as disabled.

School district did not improperly delay eligibility determination where student made meaningful progress under RTI approach

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Daniel P. v. Downington Area School District, 57 IDELR 224 (E.D. Pa. 2011): A federal district court determined that a school district, who utilized a response to interventions (RTI) approach to monitor a student, did not violate its child find obligations by initially opting not to determine the student eligible for IDEA services.  The student responded positively to the school district’s interventions for nearly two school years, until the third semester of the student’s second grade year.  However, when the student stopped making progress he was evaluated by the school district and classified with a specific learning disability by the beginning of his third grade year.  The parents were, therefore, denied tuition reimbursement for their unilateral private school placement.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on School district did not improperly delay eligibility determination where student made meaningful progress under RTI approach

Compensatory education award vacated where student refused to participate

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Dudley v. Lower Merion School District, 58 IDELR 12 (E.D. Pa. 2011): The federal district court declined a parent’s request for a court order to enforce the hearing officer’s award of compensatory services to a student classified with a specific learning disability and diagnosed as emotionally disturbed.  Despite a school district’s “substantial efforts” to comply, the student participated in the services only sporadically and eventually refused to participate altogether.  Although the hearing officer’s decision ordered the school district to “assure that [the student] arrives at the location . . . escorting him to the room if necessary,” the school district could not have used physical force to ensure the noncompliant student’s attendance.  The court granted the school district’s request to vacate the compensatory education award.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Compensatory education award vacated where student refused to participate

Student not eligible for special education where her reading fluency deficiency did not prevent her from reading at, or near, grade level.

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

H.M. v. Haddon Heights Board of Education, 57 IDELR 186 (D.N.J. 2011):  A U.S. District Court determined that a school district’s declassification of a student with a specific learning disability was proper where the student’s identified deficiency in reading fluency did not prevent her from reading at, or at least near, grade level.  Therefore, she did not require special education and was ineligible for classification.

The student’s evaluations indicated reading fluency skills below grade level.  However, the Court noted that when “viewed in conjunction with the other tests, as well as observations of her teachers” the student was operating at, or near, grade level in overall reading fluency.  The tests and observations also showed the student exhibited little, if any, difficulty with reading comprehension.  Thus, since the student’s reading fluency deficiency was not adversely impacting her educational performance she did not require special education services.  Therefore, the district’s declassification was proper.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student not eligible for special education where her reading fluency deficiency did not prevent her from reading at, or near, grade level.

Student’s goals were sufficiently measurable where they included an element of teacher observation and expressed achievement in percentages.

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

F.B. v. Spartanburg County School District, 57 IDELR 128 (D.S.C. 2011): A U.S. District Court found that a student’s goals were sufficiently measurable where the goals included an element of teacher observation, and identified the achievement desired from the services in the student’s IEP in terms of a percentage.

The goal percentages in the student’s IEPs were tied to discrete tasks, such as completing a specific math task, and often referenced a particular grade level at which the student should be working. Although the parents may not have considered the goals to be expressed in the optimal manner, they were sufficiently measurable to provide a reasonable gauge of the student’s progress. Additionally, the student’s grades were generally passing and allowed him to progress from grade to grade. Since the school district provided a FAPE, the parents’ request for reimbursement for the student’s unilateral placement was denied.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student’s goals were sufficiently measurable where they included an element of teacher observation and expressed achievement in percentages.

Change in disability classification does not require change in services if the student’s needs remain substantially the same.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Hailey M. v. Matayoshi, 57 IDELR 124 (D. Hawaii 2011): A U.S. District Court held that a subsequent change in a student’s disability classification does not require a corresponding change in the nature of the services provided to the student. The student was initially diagnosed as mentally retarded in 1999, but after private evaluations obtained by the student’s parent, her classification was changed to specific learning disability. Thereafter, the program recommended by the school district was a continuation of the student’s placement in a special education class with extended school year services, despite the parent’s request for a general education classroom.

The Court determined that the district continuously offered IEPs based on the student’s unique educational needs, regardless of her disability classification. Specifically, the student’s special education teacher testified that, notwithstanding the change in disability classification, the student’s educational needs did not change significantly. As a result, the district offered the student a free appropriate public education and the parent thus was not entitled to reimbursement for the services she obtained from private providers to address the student’s specific learning disabilities.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Change in disability classification does not require change in services if the student’s needs remain substantially the same.

Student not disabled under IDEA where, despite medical conditions causing her to miss class time, the student’s poor grades stemmed from a poor academic attitude and unexcused absences.

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

T.H. v. Montgomery County Board of Education, 56 IDELR 73 (M.D. Ala. 2011):  A U.S. District Court determined that a student with ADHD and health conditions (including an inability to adequately control her bladder and a mitral valve prolapse, which caused her to have trouble breathing and an abnormal heartbeat) did not qualify as a student with a disability under the IDEA.  The student had a poor attitude towards school, and she had numerous unexcused absences, in addition to the class time she missed as a result of her health conditions.

The student’s health conditions sometimes required her to leave school to shower and change clothes, resulting in her missing class time.  However, the student missed additional classes without excuse or explanation and demonstrated a poor attitude toward school.  She identified on a personal inventory that she “hates school” and would frequently refuse to participate or complete tests.

As a result of her poor grades, the student’s mother sought help, and ultimately referred the student to the IEP team.  The evaluation conducted by the IEP team indicated that the student did not have a learning disability, and was not other health impaired.  The Court deferred to the hearing officer’s findings, which determined that the student’s medical condition did not adversely affect her educational performance.  Rather, her poor grades resulted from the other (non-medical) factors.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Student not disabled under IDEA where, despite medical conditions causing her to miss class time, the student’s poor grades stemmed from a poor academic attitude and unexcused absences.

Entries (RSS) | Comments (RSS).