UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
BEFORE THE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
What options are available if a school district is not implementing your child's IEP? Some parents find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having fought for their child's educational rights and obtained appropriate services for their child, only to have the school subsequently fail to implement those services.
If a teacher is not appropriately credentialed or qualified to be educating children with unique needs it can lead to a subsequent denial of a student's access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
One of the most critical steps to understanding your child's specific educational needs is obtaining appropriate assessments. Once your child has been appropriately assessed within all areas of need, both yourself and the IEP team will have a much better understanding of how to best maximize your child's learning potential. Therefore, it is important that all parents understand the legal requirement for school districts to comprehensively assess students in all suspected areas of need.
Is your child having difficulty getting along with peers and teachers at school? Does your child seem to be consistently depressed? Is your child exhibiting signs of severe anxiety regarding school and peers? Are any of these factors beginning to have an impact on your child's grades? If so, your child may be eligible for Special Education Services under the category of Emotional Disturbance. The eligibility requirements for qualification under the category of Emotional Disturbance are as follows:
Parents who attend IEP meetings are generally looking to obtain something very simple for their child, an educational placement that is appropriate and will allow their child the opportunity to make substantive educational progress. However, the IEP process can be very stressful and confusing. What all parents should be aware of in preparing for an IEP meeting, is that the burden is on the school district to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE") for all children. Not only must the educational placement be appropriate, but it also must be qualify as a clear written offer. (Union Sch. Dist, v Smith, (9th Cir. 1994), 15 F.3d 1519.)
School districts are required to provide all students with a Free and Appropriate Public Education, often times referred to as "FAPE". What constitutes "appropriate" is a point of much contention between parents, school districts and attorneys alike. Therefore, it has been left up to the courts to shed more light on what actually constitutes appropriate public education. Located below is a brief glimpse into how different courts have weighed in on this discussion. In determining whether the Local Education Agency has offered Student a FAPE, the proper focus is on the adequacy of the offer of placement. If a student fails to make progress within a reasonable period of time, the LEA must convene an IEP meeting to address the student's lack of progress. A LEA's continuation of inadequate services will almost certainly be regarded as a denial of FAPE.