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STUDENT v. SAN DIEGUITO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

CASE NO. 2022030378

STUDENT v. SAN DIEGUITO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT

Counsel for Student: Parents

Counsel for School District: Attorney Jennifer Fant

Representative for School: Tiffany Hazelwood

ALJ: Jennifer Kelly

Date of Decision: September 30, 2022

ISSUES:

  • Did school deny FAPE to student by failing to provide speech and language services as decided in IEP?
  • Did school deny FAPE to student by failing to provide specialized academic instruction as decided in IEP?
  • Did school deny FAPE to student by failing to implement the Self and Match system for Student’s independent functioning, to implement the fading plan for the special circumstances instructional aide support or provide an appropriately trained one-to-one special circumstances instructional aide?
  • Did school deny FAPE to student by committing procedural violations in development of IEP?
  • Did school fail to provide student’s educational records on parent’s request?

FACTS OF THE CASE:

  • Student had Autism and attended a difference school in fifth and sixth grade where he Social-Emotional Learning Foundations program taught by a special education teacher.
  • In the last IEP meeting at the previous school it was determined that Student was achieving academically within the average or better range in all areas except reading and listening comprehension.
  • New FAPE was offered by the new school in their IEP meeting which included one-to-one support by an instructional aide in the general education setting, extensive program accommodations etc.
  • After raising some issues, Parents agreed to all components of the IEP but disagreed with Student’s placement in the co-taught English class and 1,800 minutes yearly group speech and language services.
  • Parents did not want Student to remain in a special education homeroom taught by a special education teacher. Hence, school amended its FAPE keeping in view the concerns of parents.

CONCLUSION:-

  • School DID NOT deny FAPE to student by failing to provide speech and language services as decided in IEP?

Rationale:-

– Parents’ consent is mandatory for implementing any component of IEP. As the parents did not provide consent to the speech and language services offered by school, school was under no obligation to provide such services.  

– Student had pragmatic and social communication deficiencies and had no other language or speech delays as certified by an experienced and credible Speech Pathologist.

  • School FAILED to provide specialized academic instruction to student as per decisions in IEP.

Rationale:-

– Workability lessons were included in Student’s program which resulted in reduction of time allocated to more appropriate lessons.

– The workability lessons provided to student were vocational and career-based lessons which neither addressed Student’s unique educational needs nor contributed to the progress on Student’s IEP goals.

– A disabled student younger than age 16 is not required to have post-secondary goals and transition services unless the IEP team determines this is necessary.

  • School DID NOT fail in providing the student specialized academic instruction in the co-taught class in conformity with IEP.

Rationale:-

– Parent’s concern that student was having trouble in co-taught English class was a misunderstanding as per evidence presented by the teachers. Rather the student was doing very well in co-taught English class. He t participated in the class by reading the texts, responding to questions, working in paired and small groups with classmates, and making presentations to the class.

– Student’s progress was closely monitored by and discussed between his English Teacher and Special Education Teacher and discussed with his supporting aide. Both the teacher are highly qualified and experienced in their area of expertise.

– A variety of strategies were used to work on student’s reading and comprehension skills which contributed towards achieving the goals determined in IEP.

  • School FAILED to implement the “Self and Match” system for Student’s independent functioning but DID NEITHER fail to implement the fading plan for the special circumstances instructional aide support NOR failed to provide an appropriately trained one-to-one special circumstances instructional aide.

Rationale:-

– an appropriate behavior monitoring system requires students to rate their own behavior, receive feedback from the teacher, and earn a reward for demonstrating appropriate behaviors.

– School’s claimed that it’s grade check-in system was equivalent to “Self and Match” system. However, as the grade check-in system does not perform above functions, it is not appropriate self-monitoring system.

– School did not have updated progress of student in subsequent IEP meetings. The failure was material and resulted in denial of FAPE to student.

– Parents had a misunderstanding that a fading plan was in field. However, no fading plan was decided in IEP hence, school was under no obligation to implement such plan.

– Student claimed that his instructional aides were internees and were not qualified enough to do the job. However, school presented sufficient evidence that all the instructional aides were properly trained for the job. Further, the IDEA does not require an IEP to specify the qualifications or training of service providers and student did not prove the instructional aides who worked with him were unqualified.

  • School DID NOT deny FAPE to student by committing procedural violations in development of IEP.

Rationale:-

– Student showed progress in all of his goals determined in IEP which addressed Student’s unique areas of need and contained a statement of how the goals would be measured.

– All the IEP goals were measurable, appropriately ambitious, and sought to improve an identified area of deficit for Student with realistic baselines which reflected his current performance.

– The IDEA does not require an IEP to adopt the specific form of data collection preferred by a child’s parents.

– Progress on the goals was determined not just on data, but also on observations of the teachers and service providers working with Student.

  • School DID NOT fail to provide student’s educational records on parent’s request.

Rationale:-

– Other than asserting the lack of raw data or school’s alleged misinterpretation of the data prevented them from meaningful participation, parents did not articulate how the lack of any such raw data hindered them.

– Parents participated in each of these IEP team meetings and their issues were appropriately addressed by the school.

REMEDIES/ORDER:-

  • School failed to implement the “Self and Match” system for Student’s independent functioning. Student asked for implementation of an evidence-based intervention to increase Student’s independence which was already implemented by school. However, as a remedy, training of Pacific Trail’s administrators and staff on implementing accommodations is warranted.
  • Due to partial default in terms of workability lessons, student asked for reimbursement of expenses incurred on private speech and language and academic tutoring services. This remedy was denied.
  • The student also claimed reimbursement of expenses incurred on intensive summer program focused on independent function, cognitive processing skills and reading comprehension. This remedy was denied.
  • As a remedy for denial of FAPE, Student is entitled to a total of 31 hours of compensatory education in the area of academics.
  • School shall provide and fund the services through its Special Education Local Plan Area contractors or a certified non-public agency with whom school contracts, at Parents’ discretion and choice.

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