CASE NO. 2023020691
Student v. ASPIRE INSKEEP ACADEMY CHARTER, ASPIRE CENTENNIAL COLLEGE PREPARATORY ACADEMY, AND ASPIRE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Counsel for Student: N. Jane DuBovy and Mayra Loza
Counsel for District: Heather Edwards
Representative for District: Meghann Cazale
ALJ: Ted Mann
Date of Decision: August 10, 2023
Significant areas of law: Implementation of IEP when student changes school/educational agency during a school year.
- Did District deny Student a FAPE by failing to have an IEP in place at the start of the school year?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was twelve (12) years old and eligible for special education under the autism eligibility category, with a history of difficulties with communication, behavior, and socialization, and needs in the areas of social communication, behavior, English language development, reading, writing, and math.
- Student completed elementary school at the end of the 2021-2022 school year and transferred to a new local educational agency for the start of middle school for the 2022-2023 school year. The new educational agency continued to implement the last-agreed to IEP, for the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year and held an IEP on September 15, 2022 to prepare a new IEP for Student for middle school. The Student contends that the new educational agency has denied student a FAPE by failing to have an IEP in place at the start of the school year.
- District DENIED Student a FAPE by failing to have an IEP in place at the start of the school year.
- The new educational agency delayed offering a new IEP offer for Student until after the start of the school year, instead of completing the IEP developed by previous educational agency, or developing an alternative. Hence, the new educational agency failed to have an appropriate IEP in place at the beginning of the school year and committed a procedural violation.
- The difference between the services offered in the previous educational agency’s IEP and new educational agency’s IEP was negligible. Hence, there was no substantive impact on Student in any delay in the creation of an IEP for the 2022-2023 school year. Also, the operative goals at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year were created in October 2021 and were designed to continue until October 2022, effectively eliminating any substantive impact on Student for the first 30 days of the 2022-2023 school year.
- Student failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that new educational agency’s failure to have an IEP in place at the start of the 2022-2023 school year resulted in any substantive denial of FAPE to Student for the 30 days of the 2022-2023 school year in question or that Student was deprived of educational benefit by the delay.
- However, new educational agency impeded the opportunity of Parent to participate in the decision-making process for the timely creation of Student’s IEP for the 2022-2023 school year by failing to have an IEP in place by the start of the school year. Hence, the District denied Student a FAPE by failing to have an IEP in place by the start of the school year.
- None of the remedies sought by Student are commensurate with the narrow substantive harm related to the denial of Parent’s participation in the creation of a timely IEP for Student for the 2022-2023 school year. Additionally, from an equitable standpoint, educational agency’s efforts to maximize parental participation afford it some consideration. Here, an appropriate equitable remedy for the agency’s failure to have a completed IEP for Student prior to the school year is one hour training for its IEP team members in the process and timelines for the IEP process.