CASE NO. 2022120468
Student v. SADDLEBACK VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Counsel for Student: Kathleen Loyer
Counsel for District: Daniel Harbottle
Representative for District: Diane Clark and Shawn Beese
ALJ: Laurie Gorsline
Date of Decision: June 19, 2023
Significant areas of law: Parents’ failure to consent negates any obligation for District to assess Student’s needs in several suspected areas.
- Did District deny Student a FAPE by failing to appropriately assess Student in all known / suspected areas of need?
FACTS OF THE CASE:
- Student was nine (09) years old and was eligible for special education under the primary category of autism and the secondary category of speech or language impairment.
- District DID NOT deny Student a FAPE by failing to appropriately assess Student in all known / suspected areas of need.
- District was not required to conduct a reevaluation of Student unless it determined Student’s educational or related services needs, including improved academic achievement and functional performance, warranted a reassessment, or if a Parent or teacher requested a reassessment. (20 U.S.C. § 1414(a)(2)(A)(i) & (ii); 34 C.F.R. § 300.303(a)(1) & (2); Ed. Code, § 56381, subd. (a)(1): M.S. v. Lake Elsinore Unified School District (9th Cir. 2017) 678 Fed. Appx. 543, 544 (Lake Elsinore) (nonpub. opn.).
- District sent the three-year assessment plans to Parents which were both comprehensive and would have been used by Student’s IEP team to determine the special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services for Student to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, including her assistive technology needs.
- Student failed to prove that any specific assessment beyond those proposed was required to determine whether Student needed any of these devices or what she meant by an “assistive technology specialist” or “sensory integration/hyperactivity”.
- Student’s one-line cursory reference to Student’s distractibility, overstimulation, dysregulation, stimming, and inability to sustain attention was insufficient. (See e.g., Kraim v. Virginia, et al. (S.D.W. Va. July 26, 2021, No. 3:21-cv-00326) 2021 WL 3612305, at *7 [“[J]udges are not pigs searching for truffles,” and not required to be “mind readers.”]; see also, In Re: Out of Network Substance Use Disorder Claims Against UnitedHealthcare (C.D. Cal., October 14, 2022, 8:19-cv-02075-JVS(DFMx)) 2022 WL 17080378, fn. 2 (In Re: Out of Network) [“The Court ‘is not a pig searching for truffles in a forest,’ and will ‘not perform the work of representing parties.”); Agarwal v. Oregon Mutual Insurance Company (D. Nev. January 18, 2013, No. 2:11–cv–01384–LDG) 2013 WL 211093, at *3 [“[I]t is not the responsibility of the judiciary ‘to sift through scattered papers in order to manufacture arguments for the parties.’”].
- The IDEA regulations only require a functional behavior assessment in certain disciplinary situations. (34 C.F.R. § 300.530(d)(1)(ii) and (f)(1)(i).) In the instant case, there was no evidence of any disciplinary situation mandating a functional behavior assessment.
- It was undisputed that none of Student’s teachers requested an assistive technology assessment, vision assessment and functional behavior analysis assessment. In addition, there was no specific evidence that Parents, their lay advocate, or their attorney, ever requested these assessments.
- District was required to obtain Parents’ consent to the three-year reevaluation and could not assess Student without a Parent’s consent. (20 U.S.C. § 1414(c)(3); Ed. Code, § 56381, subd. (f)(1).)
- Regardless of Parents’ motives in refusing to consent to reevaluation, Parents’ failure to consent negated any obligation for District to assess Student’s needs in several suspected areas.
- All requests for relief by Student are denied.