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Posts Tagged ‘Tuition reimbursement’

Parent’s denied private school tuition reimbursement where school district’s proposed IEP moderately increased services included in the IEP from prior year when the student had made progress

Monday, June 18th, 2012

B.O. and P.S. v. Cold Spring Harbor Central School District, 57 IDELR 130 (E.D.N.Y. 2011): The parents of a student classified as Other Health Impaired were denied tuition reimbursement for their unilateral placement in a private school for students with language-related learning disabilities.  The court reasoned that the student made progress under his IEP from the prior year and the IEP team’s decision to moderately increase services under the proposed IEP was appropriate.  While the parents presented expert witnesses who testified that the student would have benefited from the private school placement, these witnesses did not speak to whether the student would have benefited from the school district’s proposed placement.  The school district presented sufficient evidence that the school district’s proposed placement offered the student meaningful educational benefit.

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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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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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School district’s dismal response to bullying of a disabled student may have deprived the student of an appropriate education

Monday, May 16th, 2011

T.K. v. New York City Department of Education, 111 LRP 30408 (E.D.N.Y. 2011): Where the parents of a 12-year-old girl with a specific learning disability (SLD) were seeking tuition reimbursement after unilaterally placing her in a private school, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York refused the request from the school district to dismiss a claim that bullying of the student by her classmates (and the school district’s dismal response to the allegations of bullying) deprived the student of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).  At a due process hearing before an impartial hearing officer (IHO), the parents presented evidence of daily harassment and bullying of the student by her peers, as well as the school district’s failure to adequately respond to the bullying allegations.  The court stated that the IHO and state review officer (SRO) applied the wrong legal standard when they dismissed the parents’ claim.

The court stated that bullying may affect a disabled student’s opportunity to obtain an appropriate education.  Therefore, when responding to bullying allegations a school district must take prompt and appropriate action, which includes conducting an investigation to determine if the bullying occurred, and if so, the school district must take appropriate steps to prevent it from reoccurring in the future.  The court further stated that in order for the parents to be successful “[i]t is not necessary [for them] to show that [the] bullying prevented all opportunity for an appropriate education, but only that [the bullying] is likely to affect the opportunity of the student for an appropriate education” (emphasis added).  A student is denied a FAPE “[w]here bullying reaches a level where a student is substantially restricted in learning opportunities.”  Notably, the court stated that it is not necessary for the bullying to be related to the student’s disability.

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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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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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Parents awarded reimbursement for unilateral placement after school district merely recycled student’s IEP from prior year

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

E.S. v. Katonah-Lewisboro School District, 55 IDELR 130 (S.D.N.Y.  2010):  The parents of a student, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type and borderline intellectual functioning, sought reimbursement for a unilateral private school placement for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 school years.  Although the court affirmed the portion of the decision from the Impartial Hearing Officer (IHO) and State Review Officer (SRO) that the school district offered a student a FAPE during the 2006-2007 school year, the court overturned the portion of the decision that concluded the student was offered a FAPE during the 2007-2008 school year.  The court awarded the parents reimbursement for the 2007-2008 school year.

The court reasoned that the school district failed to take into account the progress the student made toward the goals on his IEP for the 2006-2007 school year and developed an IEP for the 2007-2008 IEP that was substantially the same.  The court stated that it is not legally sufficient to merely recycle an IEP from the prior year.  The court also reasoned that the student’s 2007-2008 IEP recommended the student for placement with students with significantly different needs, and failed to include a multisensory reading program at which the student demonstrated progress during the 2006-2007 school year.

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