Counsel for Student: Damian Fragoso
Counsel for District: Alefia Mithaiwala and Denise Lee
Representative for District: Dr. Rebekah Ruswick
ALJ: Tiffany Gilmartin
Date of Decision: January 23, 2023
Significant areas of law: Application of an impermissibly narrow view of student’s disability which is highly inconsistent with his/her history makes the manifestation determination review inappropriate.
- Did District fail to conduct an appropriate manifestation determination review meeting by determining that Student’s conduct was not a manifestation of his disability?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 10 years old and was eligible for special education under the under the primary category of other health impairment. Student has a history of behavior related incidents which increased substantially during fourth-grade year.
- Student chest bumped a pregnant classroom aide for which he was suspended for five school days and subsequently expelled after manifestation determination.
- District failed to conduct an appropriate manifestation determination review meeting by determining that Student’s conduct was not a manifestation of his disability.
– In Student’s previous IEP he failed to meet several goals specifically his goals in compliance and social emotional learning. His IEP noted his behavior impeded his learning and others, specifically his defiance, inability to filter negative behaviors, and difficulty with redirection.
– District was on notice of Student’s escalating intensity of behaviors and his continued struggles with dysregulation and impulse control.
– District psychologist testified she would need more information to determine if Student’s disability extended beyond his eligibility for other health impairment due to inattention.
– The manifestation determination review team applied an impermissibly narrow view of student’s disability which is highly inconsistent with school records, Student’s documented history of maladaptive behaviors, and Student’s IEP’s.
– The manifestation determination team had substantial evidence produced by District to support the conclusion that Student’s behavior was a manifestation of his disability. However, there was no evidence presented that District has completed a functional behavior assessment that is required by law.
- Within 10 days of this decision, District shall provide Parent an assessment plan to conduct a functional behavior assessment. The functional behavior assessment will be initiated within 15 days of parental consent followed by an IEP team meeting to review the assessment. Student’s IEP team will review Student’s existing behavior intervention plan and modify it as necessary and District shall reinstate Student’s enrollment at previous elementary school unless the parties agree otherwise.