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STUDENT v. LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO. 2022010333 & 2022060344

STUDENT v. LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Counsel for Student: N. Jane DuBovy and Maeve Crommie

Counsel for School District: Dee Anna Hassanpour and Anisha Asher

Representative for School: Andrew Vazquez, Juan Tajoya, Barbara Rainen

ALJ: Claire Yazigi

Date of Decision: September 23, 2022

ISSUES:

  • Did school fail to meet its Child Find Obligation?
  • Was the student eligible for Special Education Services under the categories of Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and Emotional Disturbance?
  • Are school’s academic and psychoeducational assessments legally compliant such that Student is not entitled to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense?

FACTS OF THE CASE:

  • Student was enrolled in the Individualized Honors Program i.e. for highly gifted students.
  • Student’s Psychoeducational assessment was conducted by a qualified and experienced school psychologist after student’s diagnosis of ADHD, wherein she was assessed for cognitive ability, academic performance, language function, and social emotional status.
  • Instruments used for assessment included Cognitive Assessment System 2, planning subtests, attention subtests, simultaneous subtests, successive subtests.
  • Student was also tested with Auditory Processing Skills, Fourth Edition, Motor-Free Visual Perception Test, Fourth Edition, Beery-Buktencia Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration, Sixth Edition.
  • School’s resource specialist was also qualified and experienced personnel for conducting academic assessment. He observed student in classes, considered Parent’s questionnaire responses and reviewed Student’s academic history for her academic assessment.
  • For behavioral assessment, school psychologist used BASC-3, through which it was established that student was “at-risk” in the areas of anxiety, depression, atypicality, withdrawal, and adaptability. The method used was appropriate for ADHD and for student’s age group.
  • Student got low grades in maths and geometry due to non-submission of assignments and lack of foundational algebraic knowledge. However, she was doing very well in other subjects.
  • After assessment it was concluded that student does not qualify for special education services.

CONCLUSION:-

  • School’s academic and psychoeducational assessments WERE legally compliant with the requirements of IDEA.

Rationale:-

– Multiple methods of assessment were used in each area of academic and psychoeducational assessments including but not limited to Cognitive Assessment System 2, Auditory Processing Skills, Fourth Edition, student’s and parents’ interviews and questionnaire responses etc.

– The methods/instruments used for assessment were statistically proven to be accurate for the student’s age group and ADHD.

– The school’s psychologist as well as resource specialists were qualified and experienced individuals perfectly suitable for such assessment and they were able to observe student in school setting.

– Student’s expert was neither credentialed school psychologist nor observed Student in a school setting. Further, the said expert was unfamiliar with the legal requirements for assessments under the IDEA. Hence, their testimony does not carry much weight.

  • School FAILED in its child find obligation to Student in the beginning of the year 2021-22 as student should have been referred for Special Education Assessment and an IEP meeting should have been conducted in this regard.

Rationale:-

– School knew about the lowering grades of student who was earlier a highly gifted pupil. Hence, they should have been more concerned and attentive to the needs of the student.

– Teachers also knew that student had poor internet connectivity, was going through a rough time due to parent’s divorce and had difficulty completing her homework while being one of the parents.

– The student’s performance did not improve even after returning to on-campus classes as she struggled with organization, time management, executive function, and long assignments. School should have paid attention that these characteristics could be consistent with a disability as student was also seeking medication to deal with stress.

  • Student WAS NOT eligible for special education under the categories of Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and Emotional Disturbance?

Rationale:-

– Student was able to improve her grades in all other subjects except maths, without any education coach and was performing very well as per the progress reports presented by the school.

– Student did not meet the threshold criteria for special education services under the individual categories of emotional disturbance and special learning disability as she was social, calm, friendly and was doing well in other subjects except maths.

– Student’s challenges with attention did not adversely impact her performance to a degree that she required services outside of the general education environment.

REMEDIES/ORDER:-

  • – Los Angeles failed in its Child Find obligation to Student. However, Student was not ultimately eligible for special education. Hence, the procedural error was harmless. Consequently no remedy is awarded to student.
  • – School’s psychoeducational assessment of Student was legally compliant and Student is not entitled to an independent evaluation at public expense.

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