CASE NO. 2022120157
Student v. COMPTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Counsel for Student: Jenny Chau and Alexander Rodriguez
Counsel for District: Daniel L. Gonzalez and Alexandra Bernstein
Representative for District: Dr. Mayra Helguera
ALJ: Clifford H. Woosley
Date of Decision: June 02, 2023
Significant areas of law: Failure to complete assessments and conduct IEP meeting results in denial of FAPE.
- Did District’s improper unilateral disenrollment of Student deny Student a FAPE?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Parent on behalf of Student filed an OAH wherein they alleged that District denied Student a FAPE, because it did not comply with its child find obligations, failed to timely assess and hold an IEP team meeting, did not offer special education and related services, and improperly disenrolled Student. The OAH Decision was in favor of District on all issues. In the Appellate Order, Judge affirmed the OAH Decision, except as to the disenrollment.
- The Appellate Order found that, based upon the evidentiary record on appeal, the Parent’s Permit remained valid as a matter of law and that Student complied with District’s residency requirements. District therefore failed to fulfill its obligations to Student under the IDEA by summarily disenrolling Student. Judge reversed the OAH Decision as to its finding that District no longer owed a duty to Student under IDEA when it disenrolled Student and remanded back the matter.
- District’s improper unilateral disenrollment of Student DENIED Student a FAPE.
- Parent requested that District assess Student for special education. District issued an assessment plan for Student later the same day and proposed to assess Student in the areas of academic achievement, health, intellectual development, language and speech, motor development, adaptive behavior, behavior, and social emotional, which included an educationally related intensive counseling services assessment, called ERICS. Parent signed the assessment plan, adding an occupational therapy assessment, and returned it.
- – District finished the psychoeducational assessment report in time and found that Student met the criteria for three special education eligibilities, as a student with emotional disturbance, other health impairments, and specific learning disability.
- – District also completed the functional behavior assessment, which recommended behavior supports and a behavior intervention plan for Student’s IEP.
- – District did not complete all of Student’s assessments and never convened an initial IEP team meeting because it disenrolled Student. However, the Appellate Order ruled that the Permit, if the facts on appeal remained unchanged, was valid. Student complied with District’s residency requirements and her permit was valid throughout the period in question. Hence, her disenrollment was improper and District continued to have IDEA obligations to Student.
- – When Parent changed residence and School, the new school’s assessments found that Student met the criteria for special education eligibility, under specific learning disability, other health impairment, and emotional disturbance, which were the same eligibilities as previous District’s assessments.
- – If District had not incorrectly disenrolled the Student, it would have convened Student’s initial IEP team meeting and would have found Student eligible for special education. Hence, disenrollment of Student resulted in a denial of FAPE because District did not complete Student’s assessments and hold Student’s initial IEP meeting.
- – A school district’s failure to conduct appropriate assessments or to assess in all areas of suspected disability may constitute a procedural denial of a FAPE. (Park v. Anaheim Union High School Dist., et al. (9th Cir. 2006) 464 F.3d 1025, 1031-1033.)
- – A procedural violation results in liability for denial of a FAPE only if the violation: impeded the child’s right to a FAPE; significantly impeded the parent’s opportunity to participate in the decision-making process; or caused a deprivation of educational benefits. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(E)(ii); Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (f)(2); see W.G. v. Board of Trustees of Target Range School Dist. No. 23 (9th Cir. 1992) 960 F.2d 1479, 1484.).
- – District’s failure to convene IEP meeting deprived Student of educational benefits to which she was entitled, and impeded Student’s right to a FAPE. Parent could not participate in the decision-making process because District did not convene an IEP meeting. Since Student would have been found eligible at an initial IEP team meeting, District’s failure to convene and hold Student’s initial IEP was a substantive procedural error, which amounted to a denial of FAPE. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(E)(ii); Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (f)(2) – Student proved by a preponderance of the evidence that District’s unilateral disenrollment of Student, and consequential failure to complete Student’s assessments and convene an IEP team meeting, was a substantive procedural denial of a FAPE. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(E)(ii); Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (f)(2).) And, as a result of this failure, Student’s right to an IEP, with appropriate placement and services, was delayed for six months.
- District shall provide Student with 50 hours of tutoring from a high school level, credentialed math teacher, who will support Student in her math, science, or social science college course work.2. The 50 hours must be used by Student no later than August 31, 2025. Unused hours shall be forfeited.