Counsel for Student: Gabriella Torres and Amanda Miller
Counsel for School: Maryam Rastegar and Kevin Davis
Representative for School: Erin Feeley
ALJ: Robert G. Martin
Date of Decision: January 31, 2023
Significant areas of law: A manifestation determination is not legally and procedurally compliant if it only lists assessment scores, statements of students and parents, IEP goals, etc. without providing any analysis of all this information and does not allow parents a meaningful participation.
- Did School predetermined the outcome of Student’s manifestation determination meeting, and failed to conduct a procedurally compliant meeting?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 13 years old and was eligible for special education under the category of other health impairment, due to his ADHD. He was suspended and subsequently expelled due to threats of shooting in School and intending to kill students and teachers.
- School predetermined the outcome of Student’s manifestation determination meeting and failed to conduct a procedurally compliant meeting.
– School’s team members never discussed Student’s advocate’s suggestion that Student’s threats appeared to be a manifestation of his long time and continuing inability to recognize his own inappropriate behavior. Rather, most of the time was devoted to discuss School’s difficulty obtaining and deciphering information from Student’s previous School, IEP, behavior intervention plan, and related services. This discussion casts doubt on whether School was implementing Student’s IEP with fidelity.
– School Psychologist prepared draft manifestation determination report based on School’s incident report, other investigation materials, and some of Student’s educational records without speaking with Student, Parents, or with the classmates. A number of columns on the form were filled inappropriately.
– School’s members of Student’s manifestation determination review team made no changes to School Psychologist’s manifestation report on parent’s feedback and their attorney’s request and simply proceeded with expulsion.
– School’s manifestation report did not include any analysis of the information presented therein including assessment scores. Rather the report only listed items found by police, statements collected in earlier investigations, Student’s IEP goals and services etc.
– School had only been enrolled in school for 41 days before manifestation report and School’s s teachers and staff had not had time to become familiar with Student’s behaviors and how his disabilities might influence them. They were aware of Student’s ADHD and impulsive behavior but not aware of all of the ways Student’s impulsivity had previously manifested itself.
– Student’s behavior from kindergarten to Seventh Grade had improved remarkably and he continued to meet most of his behavioral goals.
– Before considering items found from Student’s home as evidence of planning by Student to conduct a school shooting, School should have reviewed and weighed Parents’ alternative explanations offered by Parents.
– School did not conduct a meaningful meeting with the appropriate parties, as required by Target Range, supra, 960 F.2d at p. 1485.
- School is ordered to conduct a new manifestation determination review meeting for Student, complying with all IDEA procedures, within 45 days of this order.