CASE NO. 2022070072
STUDENT v. LOS ALAMITOS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Counsel for Student: Damian Fragoso
Counsel for School: Tracy Petznick Johnson
Representative for School: Grace Delk
ALJ: Theresa Ravandi
Date of Decision: November 10, 2022
Significant areas of law: Parent’s demand to include specific methods/services in IEP to deal with student’s needs.
– Did School deny student a FAPE by failing to offer structured literacy instruction and evidence-based practices for dyslexia appropriate to meet Student’s needs in the IEP?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was 10 years old and was eligible for special education under the categories of specific learning disability and speech and language impairment, and also met criteria for other health impairment based on attention deficits.
– School DID NOT deny student a FAPE by failing to offer structured literacy instruction and evidence-based practices for dyslexia appropriate to meet Student’s needs in the IEP?
– IEP offer was based on a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation of Student that was not in dispute. Further, goals of the IEP were also not in question.
– School incorporated previous NPS’s as well as private examiner’s input while making recommendation for specialized academic instruction for student. The school’s resource specialist thoughtfully considered and thoroughly answered each question, providing persuasive testimony that was not undermined by cross-examination.
– The IEP is to be read as a whole. There is no requirement that mandatory information be included in a particular section of the IEP if that information is contained elsewhere. (20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(A)(ii)(II); 34 C.F.R. § 300.320(d)(2) (2007); Ed. Code, § 56345, subd. (h).) Hence, Student’s contention that the offer failed because it did not specify what subjects would be targeted or the size of the groups was not persuasive.
– The IEP team notes clarified that school was committed to a structured literacy approach. Further, Student’s reading goals required a structured literacy program. The school’s witness’s testimony was sincere, consistent with the evidence, and persuasive.
– To determine whether a school district offered a student a FAPE, the focus must be on the adequacy of the district’s proposed program, not that preferred by the parent. (Gregory K. v. Longview School Dist. (9th Cir. 1987) 811 F.2d 1307, 1314 (Gregory K.).)
– School followed the California Dyslexia Guidelines which defined the components for an evidence-based structured literacy program. School districts need not specify an instructional method in the IEP unless that method is necessary for a student to receive a FAPE. (71 Fed. Reg. 46,665 (Aug. 14, 2006);
– Requiring a particular method would limit the autonomy and flexibility in tailoring instruction to Student’s needs.
– Shutdown during COVID-19 and year at prentice are two intervening variable in regressed performance of student. However, student’s witnesses failed to account for these variables.
- Student is not entitled to any remedy.