with auditory processing and speech impairments needed a variety of services in

With auditory processing and speech impairments

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with auditory processing and speech impairments needed a variety of services in order to receive FAPE. Key service providers, however, never discussed the student and her progress outside of IEP team meetings, an FM loop system was out of service for two months and was implemented by a school nurse who had little training, other staff had only minimal training on addressing the student’s auditory issues, and the student did not attend her required content mastery center for more than two months. The court found that the missing services and staff’s failure to coordinate and communicate about the child resulted in a denial of FAPE and a resulting liability for the costs of private placement. Practical Note —This type of problem can arise in situations where the IEP is complex and many types of services, aids, supports, and accommodations are being provided. At the end of IEP meetings in this type of case, a supervisor may want to sit down with the responsible staffpersons and list all IEP components, set deadlines for completion, make clear who is responsible for what, and set up collaboration and consultation schedules. The supervisor, moreover, may want to periodically self-monitor IEP implementation with a prepared checklist, so that problems can be identified internally, rather than by means of parent complaints. Short or minor lapses in IEP implementation may not rise to the level of a denial of FAPE —Although schools are well advised to implement IEPs to the letter, minor lapses in IEP implementation that do not result in significant educational harm to the student will not generally rise to the level of a denial of FAPE. In Sarah Z. v. Menlo Park Sch. Dist ., 48 IDELR 37 (N.D.Cal. 2007) , a school failed to implement behavioral support services for two weeks for a teenager with speech impairments and behavioral problems. The court determined that the two-week lapse in behavioral services was not significant enough to deprive the student of a FAPE. Similarly, in Catalan ex rel. E.C. v. District of Columbia , 47 IDELR 223 (D.D.C. 2007) , although a speech therapist missed a few sessions and cut some others short due to student fatigue, the court found there was no denial of FAPE, as the occasional deviations from the IEP were not significant or substantial enough to deprive the student of a meaningful educational benefit. The court noted that other circuit courts had followed the lead of the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision in Houston Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Bobby R ., which held that only material implementation failures rise to the level of a denial of FAPE. “Thus, a court reviewing failure-to-implement claims under [the IDEA] must ascertain whether the aspects of the IEP that were not followed were ‘substantial or significant,’ or, in other words, whether the deviations from the IEP's stated requirements were ‘material….’” Here, the court held a handful of missed speech sessions and some others cut short due to student fatigue were neither substantial nor significant.
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