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Friday, June 17, 2011

SRO reverses IHO and awards partial reimbursement to parent

SRO 11-041: The IHO found against the parent on a private school reimbursement case. In what is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, the SRO reversed in favor of the parent holding that the CSE had inadequate evaluative information from which to develop the IEP, that the private placement was appropriate, and that the equities weighed in favor of a partial reimbursement award. The equities section is the most interesting. The SRO held that the parent had not provided adequate prior notice of the intent to seek reimbursement for the private placement, the SRO only docked the parent 25% for said failure. The SRO then found that the parents had not adequately established that they lacked the resources to front the student’s tuition costs. Thus, it appears that the SRO denied the parents request for an order that the DOE pay the private school directly; rather the SRO ordered that the DOE reimburse the parent 75% upon proof of payment of the tuition.

3rd Circuit upholds reimbursement for supplemental home based services

NEW MILFORD BOARD OF EDUCATION v. CR (3rd Cir. 2011): Parents supplemented the school program for their autistic child with two hours of nightly in-home education at their own expense. The parents alleged that the district failed to provide a FAPE asserting that an appropriate IEP required substantial in-home instruction to curb their child’s aggression and self-stimulation. The parents sought reimbursement for two hours of nightly in-home education secured at their own expense. The ALJ, district court and 3rd Cir. all ruled for the parent. The 3rd Circuit reasoned:

T.R.'s IEP was inadequate because the "complementary nature of the home program was required for [him] to receive the meaningful educational benefit mandated by the IDEA." New Milford Bd. of Educ. v. C.R., 2010 WL 2571343, at *6 (D.N.J. June 22, 2010). If a mentally disabled child continuously presents an adverse behavior that genuinely interferes with his ability to garner any real benefit from the education provided and the IEP does not adequately remedy this behavior, it stands to reason that the school district has failed to provide even a "basic floor of opportunity," much less the meaningful benefit required by our Court. D.S., 602 F.3d at 557. Here, the record included substantial evidence that T.R.'s behaviors were not only detrimental to his home life, but also interfered with his learning. For example, T.R.'s aggressive behavior resulted in his avoidance of educational tasks during his IEP program. For this reason, we agree that T.R. did not receive the meaningful educational benefit required by the IDEA.