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Special Education Compliance

 

THREE MEMBER DUE PROCESS HEARING PANEL

EMPOWERED PURSUANT TO 162.961 R.S.Mo.

HEARING DECISION

Student’s Name:
Parent’s Name:
Representative: No Representative
Local Education Agency: Special School District of St. Louis County

12110 Clayton Road

St. Louis, MO 63131-2516

Representative: Mr. James Thomeczek, Attorney at Law

1120 Olivette Executive

Parkway, Suite 210

St. Louis, MO 63132

Hearing Date: January 27, 1999
Hearing Officers: Patrick O. Boyle

Mr. Charles Rendlen, III

Dr. George Yard

Date of Report: February 12, 1999

ISSUE

The district proposes to provide special education services to the student and, the parent has not consented to the services or the educational placement proposed. District initiated a due process hearing in order to gain approval of placement proposed and the IEP prepared.

TIME LINE

The district’s request for a due process hearing was received by the State of Missouri, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on November 25, 1998. No response to the request for the due process hearing has been received from the parent or the student. On December 26, 1998 the district requested an extension of the time for decision to February 5, 1999. A hearing was held on January 27, 1999 and, the district requested permission to submit proposed finding of fact and, further requested an extension of the time for decision to February 12, 1999. Both requests for extension had been granted and, the opinion is filed herewith dated February 12, 1999.

FACTS

1.Student is a _____ year old boy who resides with his mother in a school district which receives services for special education from a special school district. The request for due process hearing was filed by the Special School District and, it will be referred to as the district for the remainder of these findings.

2.The district evaluated student in the Spring of 1997. Jane Krasnoff, who at the time was a school psychologist employed by the district, was the chairperson of the diagnostic team. The team determined that the student is a student with a behavioral disorder.

3.Parent was invited to participate in the evaluation process. Parent did sign the consent to evaluate form. Although given notice of the meeting, parent did not participate in the diagnostic staffing.

4.Student has shown difficulties in building and maintaining satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, has exhibited signs of being withdrawn (and has been increasingly withdrawn during his eighth grade year without district intervention), and has complained of physical symptoms, such as stomach aches and headaches, which are associated with school and social problems.

5.In making the behavior disordered diagnosis, the district relied on information obtained from a variety of sources. The district conducted observations of student in different settings. The district administered an Achenbach TRF Profile for Boys, which indicated concerns or significant concerns in all but on category of behavior. Ms. Krasnoff, a licensed psychologist in the State of Missouri, also utilized projective techniques.

6.The behaviors giving rise to the diagnosis have existed over an extended period of time.

7.The behaviors exist to a marked degree and adversely affect the student’s school functioning. Student’s grades have been predominantly D’s and F’s.

8.Psychological testing and academic testing indicate that student is neither mentally retarded, language impaired, nor learning disabled. Although screening indicated a possible auditory weakness, the auditory weakness was deemed not so significant as to interfere with the testing. Student’s behaviors are not primarily caused by the possible auditory weakness. Similarly, nothing in the record suggests that student’s behaviors are caused primarily by environmental or economic disadvantage or cultural differences.

9.Local school district has implemented a number of interventions in their effort to help the student, short of his receiving services from the district. Mr. Boland, school counselor, stated that he believed that the local school district had even offered the services of the local school district’s school psychologist in the past, but that the student refused that service. Mr. Boland provided 12 to 15 sessions of individual counseling to student. This was more of his direct service than for any other student. Mr. Boland also had student participate in a six-week small group program. Jody Rozbicki, school district’s special services teacher, provided one hour of one-to-one services to the student when he was in sixth grade. These one-to-one services were again provided in seventh grade and in eighth grade. Recently, student began receiving two hours a day of services directly from Ms. Rozbicki. Student’s performance was the topic addressed by all his team of teachers at many team meetings. Classroom structure and use of behavior charts and stickers were used to help student without success. Organizational strategies were used by the local school district to help student become more organized without success.

10.The special services program where the student is currently receiving services from Ms. Rozbicki is not a special education program, but a program offered in the local school district to provide intensive short term help to students. The student has received much more of the special services than the program is designed to provide. Ms. Rozbicki is not a special education teacher and is not certified in special education.

11.Student has in the past and now continues to display a pattern of inappropriate and disruptive behaviors in the school setting.

12.Parent has indicated disagreement with the diagnosis of a behavior disorder, but has never invoked her procedural safeguards. However, she did engage in a consistent patter of not cooperating with the district in getting an individual education program ("IEP") developed and an educational placement effectuated.

13.When parent indicated she did not agree with the diagnosis, Dr. Mary Alice Klund, who was at the time the Regional Director overseeing the district’s programs at the local school district, wrote her, encouraging her to meet with Ms. Kathryn Bell, a special education teacher at the local school district’s junior high school.

14.Because of parent’s concerns, the district attempted to work with her to arrange for an evaluation by an outside provider.

15.While the efforts to arrange for an evaluation were underway, the district provided parent with written notice that is parent continued not to cooperate with the district, the district would proceed with the IEP and placement process without her. The local school district also encouraged parent to work with the school district. The school district also advised parent that it would proceed with administrative remedies in the event parent did not cooperate and give consent to placement.

16.The school district determined that it was necessary to seek administrative remedies. The first step was a resolution conference. A resolution conference was held to review the appropriateness of the diagnosis of a behavior disorder and the development of an IEP. The school district provided parent with notice of the resolution conference. When parent indicated she could not attend the resolution, the conference was rescheduled. Parent still did not attend the resolution conference. The resolution conference decision informed parent that the school district would pursue a due process hearing if necessary.

17.The school district offered to arrange for an Independent Educational Evaluation for the student at public expense in order to resolve the issue of parent’s disagreement with the diagnosis.

18.The Special School District offered a psychiatric consultation for student at public expense.

19.The Special School District repeatedly contacted the parent to implement the Independent Educational Evaluation. These efforts were not successful.

20.An IEP meeting was held on November 4, 1998. Marie Burke - special education teacher, Jody Rozbicki - general education teacher, Charlotte Roberts - local school district liaison, Peggy Doty - general education teacher, Lloyd Winston - general education teacher, Peggy Crowe - general education teacher, Linda Armbruster - general education teacher, Robert A. Oliveri - principal, Annalee Nissenholtz - counselor, and Chris Montgomery - special education director, participated in the development of the IEP.

21.Parent was provided notice of the IEP meeting.

22.Parent did not participate in the IEP meeting.

23.The November 4, 1998 IEP is an appropriate initial IEP for student. The IEP calls one hour of special education services per day and for evaluation of progress on goals and objectives in six weeks. Ms. Montgomery and Ms. Rozbicki noted that the IEP calls for a low level of services to start. Based on evaluation of student’s performance the level of services could change.

24.The school district pursued the next level of administrative hearing, the due process hearing, because parent would not sign consent to placement.

CONCLUSION OF LAW

1.This hearing was convened pursuant to 20 U.S.C. Section 1415, Section 162.961 RSMo., 34 C.F.R. Section 300.504 and the Missouri State Plan at 37-38. The hearing panel provided appropriate notice to all parties. The school district appeared. Parent and student did not appear.

2.The student is a student with a behavior disorder.

3.The school district has developed an individual education plan specifically designed to address student’s educational needs, as required by the IDEA. 20 U.S.C. Section 1414.

4.The school district provided parent with all appropriate notices pertaining to the evaluation process and the IEP/Placement Process. 20 U.S.C. Section 1415.

5.The IDEA requires the school district to pursue administrative remedies when a parent refuses to provide consent for initial placement. 34 C.F.R. Section 300.504(b)(2). Parent has failed to provide consent for initial placement.

6.The school district provided parent with the appropriate notice that it would pursue administrative remedies to override parent’s failure to provide consent for initial placement.

7.The placement contemplated by the November 4, 1998 IEP is reasonable and takes into account least restrictive environment considerations. 20 U.S.C. Sections 1412(a) (5) and 1414.

8.Student is in need of special education and related services. The school district is permitted to place student in the placement set forth in the November 4, 1998 IEP. 34 C.F.R. Section 300.504.

DECISION

Based on the evidence provided, the testimony presented, the requirement of the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act, and the requirements of Missouri statutes and regulations as stated in the Missouri State Plan, the panel finds unanimously for the Petitioner. Therefore, unless parent appeals the decision of this panel within thirty days of the date the panel provides notice of this decision, special education services are to be initiated on student’s behalf by the district in accordance with the IEP plan submitted.

APPEAL PROCEDURE

Either party has the right to appeal this decision within 30 days to a State Court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Chapter 536 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, or to Federal Court.

Panel Members

Support Decision

Patrick O. Boyle

Mr. Charles Rendlen, III

Dr. George Yard