The Puyallup School District has won a court case involving a student whose father has been picketing the district over special-education practices.From the October 29th issue of Education Week:
Administrative Law Judge Cindy Burdue rejected some two dozen claims by Bernie and Denise Dalien, who alleged the district failed to meet the educational needs of their 17-year-old son, Colton, and failed to keep other students from harassing him.
Colton has several conditions including Landau Kleffner syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy affecting his ability to process sound, which in turn hinders his ability to speak and learn through verbal instruction. He can speak only in short, simple sentences and is sensitive to background noises.
Colton tests at the primary grade level in math and reading, but his parents believe he has the capacity to learn more if he received more visual instruction appropriate for his disability. Bernie Dalien recently picketed Puyallup district headquarters and various schools over special-education students picking up trash and materials, allegedly without their parents’ knowledge.
The US Supreme Court last week refused to hear the appeal of a Minnesota family in a case about the burden of proof in legal disputes over special education.Students with IEPs have rights. Even when rights cost money, students still have those rights. I wonder, as the father of a daughter with multiple disabilities, whether some districts will take a closer look at the IEPs and see if those rights can't be done cheaper.
The appeal came from the parent of a child with multiple disabilities who ended up in administrative proceedings over the child's services under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
At issue was whetehr the parent or the state of Minnesota would have the burden of proof in the proceedings. In a 2005 opinion known as Schaffer v. Weast, the Supreme Court held that where state law was silent on the issue, the burden of persuasion in special education cases lies with the party who brought the case. But the justices stopped short of deciding which rule would apply in states that assign the burden of proof in such proceedings by law, such as Minnesota, which places the burden on school districts in most instances.
I'm starting to learn about the very nascent stages of the IEP process. My daughter turns 3 next August, which means she moves out of the Spokane County Infant-Toddler Network caseload and into the school system. In March we're going to have a transition meeting to talk about the services she's getting, and then we'll all work together to craft the IEP. She's getting physical therapy to deal with how the brain scarring has affected her balance, her physical therapist thinks the occupational therapist needs to take another look at her, and (because of her 80% hearing loss) she's pretty much a guarantee to be in speech for quite some time. My wife and I have been talking about wanting to see her go to the HOPE School in Spokane, which is a special program at WSU-Riverpoint especially for deaf and hard of hearing toddlers, but that would involve transportation, which costs, which might be something the district fights.
It's going to be interesting; I'll keep you informed along the way.