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Friday, November 21, 2008

District Court vacates SRO home schooling decision

This morning, Judge Hurd in the Northern District of New York vacated SRO decision 08-005, the second of two SRO cases in which Paul Kelly deemed that there was no authority under state or federal law for school districts to provide special education services to home schooled kids. Although Education Law §3602-c has been amended to now expressly afford home schoolers a limited right to special education services, this Court decision is still of importance to those families who were impacted by Kelly’s decisions.
B.C. v. Colton-Pierrepont, 7:08-cv-00362, N.D.N.Y. 11/21/08.

Note that this decision was vacated by the 2nd Circuit on December 21, 2009. The Court found that the matter was moot.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

District Court affirms IHO right to rule on issue not raised by parent

J.S. ex rel. Y.S. v. North Colonie Central School Dist., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2008 WL 4917881(N.D.N.Y. Nov 18, 2008): In a decision that was otherwise unfavorable to the parent, the Court reversed the SRO and upheld a hearing officer determination that the district must provide the child with transition services. The parent had not raised the issue to the IHO, a fact noted and relied upon by the SRO in his reversal of the IHO. The Court found that the parent had challenged the sufficiency of the IEP and that this was enough for the IHO to order the district to implement a service that was required by law.

The task of the CSE is inherently speculative or predictive

School districts oftentimes argue that a parent position is speculative. I have argued that CSE recommendations are inherently speculative. In a case decided 11/18/08, the NDNY noted that

The requirement that defendant's CSE annually develop an IEP that is reasonably calculated to benefit plaintiff's educational development necessarily implies the CSE must make rational predictions about what will be best for plaintiff in the future. A school district's CSE will never have the benefit of knowing for certain how a student would perform if allowed to continue his education pursuant to an un-modified IEP. Although the IDEA permits the consideration of evidence outside the administrative record, see 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C), the statute is silent as to whether courts may consider a student's performance subsequent to the development of the challenged IEP.

J.S. ex rel. Y.S. v. North Colonie Central School Dist., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2008 WL 4917881(N.D.N.Y. Nov 18, 2008)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mootness, effect of subsequently issued IEP, pendency, comp ed, attorney fees

Student X, by his mother v. NYC Dept. of Educ., Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4890440(E.D.N.Y. Oct 30, 2008) (NO. 07-CV-2316(NGG)RER): The parent in this case lost on the FAPE claims but the case is extremely important for a variety of reasons. First, the Court dealt what hopefully is a knockout blow to SRO Paul Kelly’s overly restrictive view of the mootness doctrine. The Court found that an IEP issued subsequent to the challenged IEP did not moot the challenge to the first IEP. The Court recognized that the challenged action was capable of repitition while evading review. Next, the Court cited to the 2nd Circuit Schutz case observing that “a new IEP for the school year following the one at issue in the litigation was a “mere proposal” that did not change the student's pendency entitlement. To hold otherwise would “undermine entirely the pendency placement provisions of the IDEA, allowing a school district to avoid altogether § 1415(j)”. Again, this is a refutation of SRO Paul Kelly who has repeatedly excused district malfeasance by denying the parent the right to due process when a district issues a new IEP.

And there’s more. Citing to the recent 2nd Cir. case P. v. Newington, the Court refuted the notion that compensatory education is limited to over age 21. This should help to reinforce that the SRO’s silly distinction between “additional services” and compensatory education should be relegated to historical artifact. The Court then found that the refusal to implement pendency was a gross violation of the IDEA for which the Court granted an hour for hour award of compensatory services. Finally, the Court awarded attorney fees to the parent for prevailing on pendency.