What is the standard for whether or not a school district has arrived at an IEP team meeting with a pre-determined offer of services?
Outlined below is a brief summary of school district requirements regarding assessment plans, parental consent, and the subsequent legal timeline regarding those assessments.
The IDEA imposes upon the school district the duty to conduct a meaningful IEP meeting with parents. (W.G. v. Bd. of Trustees of Target Range Sch. Dist., 960 F.2d 1479, 1485 (9th Cir. 1992); Fuhrmann v. East Hanover Bd. of Educ., 993 F.2d 1031, 1036 (3d Cir. 1993)).
According to federal courts, in resolving the question of whether or not a school district has offered particular student a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the focus is on the adequacy of the school district's proposed program. A school district is not required to place a student in a program preferred by a parent, even if that program will result in greater educational benefit to the student. (See Gregory K. v. Longview School District, 811 F.2d 1307, 1314 (9th Cir. 1987)).
In determining the educational placement for a child with a disability, a school district is charged with ensuring that the placement is as close as possible to the child's home. Unless the child's IEP requires another arrangement, the child is to be educated in the school that he or she would attend if non-disabled. (34 C.F.R. § 300.116(b)(3), (c)).
The first step in determining whether or not your child's current educational placement and program is appropriate, is to consider whether or not he/she is progressing within his current setting. Often times the first step that a School District will look to determine whether or not a particular student is progressing is by considering whether or not that student has met his/her annual goals. However, there is an even more fundamental place to start when determining whether or not a student is actually making appropriate progress.
Both federal and state law require school districts to provide a program within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to each special education student. (See 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.114, et seq.) More specifically, a special education student must be educated with non-disabled peers "[t]o the maximum extent appropriate," and may be removed from the regular education environment only when the nature and severity of the student's disabilities is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services "cannot be achieved satisfactorily."
Only because a school district may have met their requirements under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it does not automatically mean they have met their requirements under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). KM v. Tustin USD, 61 IDELR 182 (9th Cir 2013).
Like most employees, nurses are not immune to an occasional day off from work. But when it comes to a student whose medical condition necessitates the ongoing presence of a nurse at school, school districts should not wait for a nurse to call in sick before developing a back-up plan. Even if it is for just one day, the school district is still under the obligation per IDEA to properly implement a child's IEP, including nursing services. As such, it is prudent that school districts take all necessary steps to ensure that a student receives services when his/her assigned nurse misses school such as creating a plan when a nurse is unavailable, work with a 3rd party provider to ensure coverage or train a full time nurse who is on campus throughout the entire school day.