CASE NO. 2023010119
Student v. GRANITE MOUNTAIN CHARTER SCHOOL
Counsel for Student: Mother
Counsel for District: Vivian Billups-Randolph
Representative for District: Dr. Cristina Navarro-Cabero and Nicole Balogh
ALJ: Christine Arden
Date of Decision: June 20, 2023
Significant areas of law: Essential IEP team members
- Did District deny student a FAPE by significantly impeding on parent’s opportunity to participate in IEPs, by failing to have the occupational therapist, the speech-language pathologist, or their assistants at the IEP team meetings?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 07 years old and was eligible for special education under the primary eligibility category of autism, and the secondary eligibility category of speech or language impairment.
- Student filed a due process hearing request before ALJ and contended that District denied him FAPE in several ways. However, Student did not meet his burden of proof on any allegation.
- District DID NOT deny student a FAPE by significantly impeding on parent’s opportunity to participate in IEPs, by failing to have the occupational therapist, the speech-language pathologist, or their assistants at the IEP team meetings.
– An IEP team meeting must include the following:
• at least one parent;
• a representative of the local educational agency;
• a regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment;
• a special education teacher or provider of the child;
• an individual who can interpret the instructional implications of assessment results;
• other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the pupil, as invited at the discretion of the district; and,
• when appropriate, the student.
(20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(B); Ed. Code, § 56341, subd. (b).)
- A required team member may be excused from attending an IEP meeting if parents give their written consent to the excusal of that team member. The essential IEP team members who must be excused from an IEP team meeting by the parent are the same as those required to be present at IEP meetings. (34 C.F.R. § 300.321(e).)
- The speech language pathology assistants and occupational therapy assistants who provided related services directly to Student were not among the personnel legally required to attend IEP team meetings. 20 USC § 1414 (d)(1)(B)(i)-(vii); Ed. Code, § 56341(b)(1)-(5); and 34 CFR § 300.321(a) (a)(1)-(7).
- District did not commit a procedural error by failing to ensure that the speech-language pathology assistants, and occupational therapy assistants, who worked directly with Student, were present at IEP meetings.
- The IEP meeting notes indicate Mother consented both verbally and in writing either before the meeting, or at the beginning of the meeting, to excuse the speech-language pathologist from attending the entire meeting, and to excuse the occupational therapist from attending part of the meeting.
- IEP meeting notes also indicate that occupational therapist reported to the IEP team about Student’s occupational therapy, and answered Mother’s questions. Mother had no other questions for occupational therapist before he left the meeting. There was no persuasive evidence that the IEP meeting notes were inaccurate.
- All relief sought by the Petitioner, Student, is denied.