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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SRO reverses IHO and awards reimbursement

SRO 10-007: This case is worth reading. The child presents as multiply disabled with significant behavioral difficulties. After much ado, the parents placed the child into a private school and sought reimbursement. The IHO wrote a cursory one and a half page decision denying reimbursement. Even Paul Kelly, who finds merit in virtually everything pro-district, would not save this one. After castigating the IHO for failing to follow requirements for proper decision writing, SRO Kelly then found for the parent on a number of different grounds including 1) the district failed to sufficiently evaluate the student's extensive behavioral needs before making program and placement recommendations in the June 2009 IEP, therefore the recommendation was based upon insufficient evaluative data, 2) the specific BOCES placement did not have the recommended 12:1+1 program, 3) the district's failed to meet its burden to show that a 6:1+1 program was substantively appropriate for the student and was in the LRE, and 4) the district's recommendation for a 6:1+1 program was made with insufficient parent participation. The SRO then went on to find that the private placement (West Hills) was appropriate although the child had only been there for a few weeks at the conclusion of the hearing.

Significantly, the SRO denied reimbursement for related services. West Hills is operated under the auspices of the Gersh Academy. The related service providers are Gersh employees who are "available everyday" but are only on-site at West Hills two to three days per week providing services to their assigned students unless they are providing additional student consultations, training or participating in team meetings. SRO Kelly found that it was unclear what needs were being addressed by the related services providers and that thus “the parents have not met their burden to show that the therapy sessions and counseling sessions were appropriate to meet the student's unique needs in these areas.”