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STUDENT v. ATASCADERO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO. 2022060339

STUDENT v. ATASCADERO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Counsel for Student: Attorneys David Grey and Barbara Grey

Counsel for School District: Sarah Garcia, Karina Demirchyan and Ethan Hicks

Representative for School: Cynthia Ravalin

ALJ: Cynthia Fritz

Date of Decision: August 04, 2022

ISSUES:

  • Was Student’s violation of the school code of conduct caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to, Student’s disability or a direct result of Director of Student Intervention Services failure to implement student’s IEP?

FACTS OF THE CASE:

  • Student had difficulties with physical and verbal aggression, elopement, and off-task behavior since elementary school and needed the support of a board-certified behavioral analyst (BCBA), since middle school.
  • On the day of incident, Student’s behavior involved off-task behavior, elopement, verbal threats, gestures of physical harm to staff, cursing, and instances of unwanted physical contact upon one staff member. Out of which physical aggression was the only conduct alleged to violate the school code.
  • School charged Student with grabbing/patting the buttocks of a staff member and shoving a staff member against a wall twice.
  • School psychologist gathered statements from the participants of incident, contacted some school staff for clarifications, interviewed Student, and brought together the witness accounts and documentation regarding Student’s disabilities, IEP, behavior intervention plan, assessments, health records, Student observations, and disciplinary record in a written manifestation determination report.
  • Manifestation determination team unanimously agreed that Student’s conduct during incident was not caused by or had a direct or substantial relationship to Student’s disabilities.

CONCLUSION:-

  • Student’s conduct had NO DIRECT OR SUBSTANTIAL relationship with his disabilities. It was NOT IMPULSIVE, rather it was planned. Further it was NOT A DIRECT RESULT of any failure of school to implement his IEP.
  • Further, procedural violations were confronted by student in closing brief, however, these procedural defects were not pled as issues in his complaint. School had no notice of these procedural challenges for hearing. Hence, these are not determined in the decision.

Rationale:-

– Student’s statements during the incident showed he understood the situation. He responded throughout the incident to staff that he did not want to comply, did not care if he got hurt, and that people were not the boss of him.

– There were no intense antecedents likely to invoke the physical aggression of the student at the time of incident and he had ample time to make choices about whether to engage in physically aggressive conduct or not.

– Student politely opened a door for preferred staff member then soon after swung an object on the other staff member, showing his ability to decipher between preferred and un-preferred staff.

– Student was given appropriate space and a lot of time and only one person tried to deal with him at once. Staff prompted the student to use calming strategies as well as to take his medication.

– Each school witness was familiar with Student and his IEP, was an experienced educator and qualified to testify in their discipline and had observed Student at school. Further, most of the witnesses corroborated each other’s testimony.

REMEDIES/ORDER:-

  • – Manifestation determination, that Student’s conduct was not caused by, or a direct or substantial relationship to, Student’s disabilities is affirmed.
  • – Manifestation determination, that any failure to implement the IEP was not a direct result of Student’s conduct is affirmed.
  • – All relief sought by Student from the expedited hearing is denied.

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