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STUDENT v. SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO. 2022060214

STUDENT v. SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Counsel for Student: Wendy R. Dumlao and Erica L. Mortenson

Counsel for School: Jonathan P. Read and David A. Graham

Representative for School: Brian Spry

ALJ: Charles Marson

Date of Decision: November 18, 2022

Significant areas of law: Lack of adequate services, appropriate offer of placement and lack of clarity in IEP offer.

ISSUES:

– Did school deny student a FAPE by

  • failing to offer adequate deaf and hard of hearing services and a placement that met student’s academic needs?
  • failing to offer a placement in the least restrictive environment?
  • failing to offer specialized academic instruction in math and reading?
  • failing to provide a clear and specific offer?

FACTS OF THE CASE:

  • Student was six years old and was eligible for special education in the categories of Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Language or Speech Disorder. He required hearing aids for both ears due to mild to moderate hearing loss in his right ear and moderate to severe hearing loss in his left ear.
  • At age three, parents and school met to decide a program for him, but on failing to do so parents privately placed him in a series of preschools. Hence, student never attended a San Diego school since age three.
  • When parents decided to place student in school district, school conducted three IEP meetings at different intervals but parties could not agree on a program for Student.

CONCLUSION :-

– School DID NOT DENY student a FAPE by failing to offer adequate deaf and hard of hearing services and a placement that met student’s academic needs.

Rationale:-

– School made unusual efforts including triennial assessments to determine student’s present levels of performance and his program needs as student had not attended school since he was two years old. Student did not challenge the adequacy of assessments conducted by school, adequacy of eleven annual goals offered by school and sufficiency of the accommodations offered by school.

– The testimony of school’s witnesses was generally based on their assessments, was careful and detailed, and was not damaged in any significant way in cross-examination.

– Student’s pediatric audiologist neither had any training in the areas of student’s needs nor had significant background in early childhood language development or education. Further, the said witness’s opinions were new, and were never communicated to Student’s IEP team before or during his earlier IEP team meetings.

– The evidence showed that student was doing well without the type of full-time DHH support that he demands.

– School DID NOT DENY student a FAPE by failing to offer a placement in the least restrictive environment.

Rationale:-

– All the evidence showed that Student was well-behaved and never disrupted his class or troubled his teachers. There was no evidence that he had any adverse effect on any school staff or his peers. In addition, there was no evidence at hearing about the cost of the placement.

– School DID NOT DENY student a FAPE by failing to offer specialized academic instruction in math and reading.

Rationale:-

– The evidence showed without contradiction that the instruction in math and reading that Student would have been provided under the offered IEP by DHH specialists pushing into his classroom constituted specialized academic instruction.

– School DID NOT DENY student a FAPE by failing to provide a clear and specific offer.

Rationale:-

– Student’s attack is focused on a preliminary draft of the IEP, not the final offer. Student does not identify any decision that holds a preliminary draft of an IEP violated the decision made in case relied upon by the student when the final offer was sufficiently clear.

– The final IEP offer was clear. Parents participated fully in the IEP process, were able to present complaints about the offer, and understood the offer.

REMEDIES/ORDER:-

  • All student’s requests for relief are denied.

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