CASE NO. 2022080622 & 2022090289
Student v. CORONA-NORCO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Counsel for Student: Sheila Bayne
Counsel for School: Constance Taylor
Representative for School: Dawn Rust
ALJ: Christine Arden
Date of Decision: December 22, 2022
Significant areas of law: School may not implement student’s IEP without parental consent when IEP team fails to consider students’ current level of performance while deciding an appropriate placement.
- Did school’s IEP constitute a FAPE in the least restrictive environment for Student such that School may implement that IEP without obtaining parental consent?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 12 years old and was eligible for special education under the primary category of autism, and a secondary category of intellectual disability.
- School’s IEP DID NOT constitute a FAPE in the least restrictive environment for Student such that School may implement that IEP without obtaining parental consent.
– Student’s report card for the third trimester was printed five days after his IEP team meeting. It is reasonable to assume Student’s third trimester grades, or an estimate of the grades Student earned in the third trimester, were known by Student’s teachers, and would have been available to the IEP team for discussion. This was important information that the IEP team was required to review when discussing Student’s placement for the upcoming school year. However, there was no evidence that such a discussion occurred at any of the three IEP team meetings.
– Student’s excellent grades in all of his grade-level classes should have alerted the IEP team to the fact that Student was performing well in comparison to his peers in grade-level classes. It is unreasonable the team disregarded the good grades Student earned in both the mild-to-moderate special day class and the temporary placement.
– The IEP team was obligated to consider Student’s passing to excellent performance in grade-level classes before offering Student placement in a moderate-to-severe special day class with a modified functional curriculum.
– Student’s IEP team did not consider Student’s successful academic performance in both placements when it inexplicably offered him a more restrictive, less academically rigorous, functional placement.
– The testimony of the teachers that the appropriate placement for Student was in the more functional level Life Skills program appeared memorized and coached, and their opinions that Student should be placed in the Life Skills program were illogical.
– The IEP team’s failure to discuss Student’s grades, or why the cognitive results of testing by School were so disparate with Student’s satisfactory academic performance, particularly in light of Parent’s protest concerning the cognitive testing results, was not appropriate.
– School’s IEP team failed to meet its obligation to determine why and how Student earned such good grades in the mild-to-moderate special day class and in the temporary placement if the team believes he is unable to access his education in the Essentials program.
- School shall not implement the IEP without parental consent. Until a new IEP is consented to by Parents or found to offer a FAPE by OAH, Student’s operative program shall be the previous IEP.
- Student’s IEP team shall reconvene an IEP meeting within 30 days of the date this Decision is issued to develop an IEP and offer Student a FAPE for the remainder of the school year, until his next annual IEP is due.