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Inadequate Educational Assessment

An inadequate assessment may result in an IDEA violation if the procedural inadequacy impedes the student's right to a FAPE. Capistrano USD, 64 IDELR 55 (SEA CA 2013).

A California school district (District) made a placement offer based on data obtained via an assessment they completed without observing the student at school while school was in session. Specifically, in this matter, Parents unilaterally placed Student with Autism at a residential treatment facility in Utah. District subsequently asserted their right to assess and Parents complied. The District opted to conduct the assessment at the Utah placement during spring break. As such, the school psychologist could not observe Student interacting with peers or teacher in the classroom setting. Despite this error, District completed its assessment, held a series of IEP meetings and made an offer of placement. Parents disagreed with the District's offer and both parties filed for due process.

The ALJ concluded that the District impeded the student's right to a FAPE. The ALJ explained that the underlying District assessment was inadequate especially in this matter as classroom observation were essential here, where Student struggled with emotional regulation, had difficult reading social cues and was quick to react to anger. Because certain triggers caused Student to become verbally and physically aggressive, the ALJ concluded, Student needed a classroom setting that would allow him to have "brief transitions throughout the day along with intensive 1:1 daily support and therapeutic interventions.

To remedy the denial of FAPE, the ALJ ordered tuition reimbursement for the Utah placement.

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Navigating the road of special education law can be difficult and confusing, if you have any questions about your child's special education placement or services, Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.

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