Ned and Northampton Public Schools – BSEA # 12-0250



<br /> Ned and Northampton Public Schools – BSEA # 12-0250<br />

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

BUREAU OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS

In Re: Ned1 and Northampton Public Schools

BSEA #12-0250

DECISION

This decision is rendered pursuant to M.G.L. Chapters 30A and 71B; 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq.; 29 U.S.C. §794; and the regulations promulgated under these statutes.

A hearing in the above-entitled matter was held on November 3, 9, and 21, 2011 at Catuogno Court Reporting in Worcester, MA. The record was left open for receipt of final written arguments, post hearing motions and responses thereto until January 25, 2012.

Those in attendance for all or part of the hearing were:

Parent

Parent

Christine Sadowski Psychologist, Children’s Hospital

Carla Bernier Private Speech/Language Pathologist

Linda LaFontaine Supervising Speech/Language Patholgist, Curtis Blake School

Derek Beaulieu Attorney for Parents

Nathan Ziegler Director of Special Education, Northampton Public Schools (NPS)

Sandra Donah Supervisor of Special Education, NPS

Deborah Willis Special Education Teacher, NPS

Laurie Sperry School Adjustment Counselor, NPS

Kathleen Casale School Psychologist, NPS

Denise Johnson Speech/Language Pathologist, NPS

Fran Cooper Fourth Grade Teacher, NPS

Jed Dion Fifth Grade Teacher, NPS

Marie Hershkowitz Teacher Assistant, NPS

Lauren Szumere Special Education Teacher, NPS

Darlene Coppola Court Stenographer

Pauline Bailey Court Stenographer

Raymond Oliver Hearing Officer, Bureau of Special Education Appeals

The evidence consisted of Parents’ Exhibits labeled P-1 through P-22; School Exhibits labeled S-1 through S-53; and approximately 10 ½ hours of oral testimony.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Ned is an 11 year old boy who resides with his parents in Northampton, MA. Ned was adopted from an Asian country at seven months of age. He began attending the Northampton Public School (NPS) in an integrated pre-school. He was evaluated by NPS, found to have special education needs, and has always functioned under an Individual Education Program (IEP). Ned attended Jackson Street School through kindergarten. From first grade until the present time (fifth grade) Ned has attended Bridge Street School’s Learning Disabilities Program.

All of Ned’s IEPs from pre-kindergarten through grade four were accepted by Parents. (See S-6, 15, 20, 25, 34.) In March 2011 the team met and proposed an IEP for the period March 1, 2011 until March 1, 2012 (P-1; S-44). Parents had Ned independently evaluated at Children’s Hospital in Boston in April and May 2011 and a report was written on June 1, 2011 (P-6). The team reconvened on June 23, 2011 to consider the independent evaluation and an amendment was proposed to the March 2011- March 2012 IEP, which expanded services (P-2; S-45). On July 5, 2011 Parents accepted the services offered on both the March 2011 – March 2012 IEP and the June 2011 Amendment to the IEP, but rejected the placement and services as insufficient based upon the independent evaluation. (See P-1, 2; S-44, 45.)

Two days later, on July 7, 2011, Parents’ attorney filed for a hearing before the BSEA. Pre-hearing conference calls took place, discovery was filed, and parties agreed to three hearing dates of September 28, 29, and 30, 2011. On September 14, 2011 Parents requested a postponement of the hearing and the hearing was rescheduled to November 2011, and took place on the above cited dates.

ISSUES IN DISPUTE

1) Does NPS’ proposed March 2011-March 2012 IEP, as amended on June 23, 2011, appropriately address Ned’s special education needs so as to provide him with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive educational environment?

2) If not, does Ned require placement at the Curtis Blake Day School in Springfield, MA in order to receive FAPE in the least restrictive educational environment?

STATEMENT OF POSITIONS

Parents’ position is that NPS’ proposed IEP for Ned from March 2011-March 2012, as amended by NPS’ proposed amendment promulgated on June 23, 2011, is inappropriate to address Ned’s special education needs so as to provide him with FAPE in the least restrictive educational environment. Parents contend that Ned’s special education needs require him to spend his full day, year round, in special education classroom for students with language based learning disabilities. Parents contend that Ned should be placed at the Curtis Blake Day School located in Springfield, MA, and that NPS should fund this placement.

NPS’ position is that its proposed IEP from March 2011 to March 2012, as amended by its proposed June 23, 2011 Amendment, is appropriate to address Ned’s special education needs so as to provide him FAPE in the least restrictive educational environment. NPS contends that Ned’s placement at Curtis Blake School is would be restrictive and not necessary to address Ned’s special education needs.

BRIEF PROFILE OF STUDENT

At age 11, Ned has been extensively evaluated. He underwent a private neuropsychological evaluation in 2007 towards the end of kindergarten by Timothy Whalen, Ph. D. (S-14). Ned’s most recent school evaluations took place in March 2010 at his last comprehensive three year re-evaluation and included: an Audiological Evaluation and Auditory Processing Assessment (S-26); Educational Evaluation (S-27); an Occupational Therapy Evaluation (S-28); a Speech-Language Evaluation (S-29); a Psychological Evaluation (S-30); and a School Adjustment Counselor Assessment (S-32). Then, in April and May 2011, Ned received an Educational Evaluation and a Psychological Evaluation at Children’s Hospital (Children’s) (P-6).

In April 2007 on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – 4 th edition (WICS-IV) Neuropsychologist Whalen found Ned’s overall level of intellectual functioning to be solidly within the average range with a full scale IQ score of 98. Ned’s cluster scores were: Verbal Comprehension 106; Perceptual Reasoning 100; Working Memory 97; and Processing Speed 83. (See S-14.) As part of Ned’s three year re-evaluation in March 2010, NPS School Psychologist Kathleen Casale also administered the WISC-IV with similar results; Verbal Comprehension – 93 (average); Perceptual Reasoning 106 (average); Working Memory 99 (average); Processing Speed 88 (below average); Full Scale IQ 96 (average).

On educational/academic testing administered by NPS in March 2010 (S-27) Ned, then age 9.1 and at a 3.6 grade level, achieved the followed age level (AL) and grade level (GL) scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement – 3 rd edition (WJ-III):

Cluster Test AE GE

Broad Reading 8.2 2.8

Broad Math 8.4 2.9

Broad Written Language 8.4 3.1

Reading Comprehension 8.11 3.6

Math Calculation Skills 7.8 2.3

Written Expression 8.9 3.3

Academic Skills 8.3 3.0

Academic Fluency 7.8 2.4

Academic Apps 8.11 3.5

Academic Knowledge 8.10 3.8

The test examiner, Ms. Willis, summarized:

[Ned’s] fluency with academic tasks is within the low average range of others at his age level. His academic knowledge and skills, and his ability to apply academic skills, are all within the average range.

When compared to others at his age level, [Ned’s] performance is average in broad reading, reading comprehension, mathematics, written language, and written expression; and low average in math calculation skills.

On speech language testing administered by NPS in March 2010 (S-29) NPS speech-language therapist Denise Johnson noted in her summary:

Overall core language performance indicates good language knowledge for word meanings and formulating sentences, with weak performance in auditory memories for sentences. [Ned] demonstrates good comprehension of multi-step directions and concepts, however his inconsistent application of right-left orientation negatively affected the overall score. [Ned] demonstrated average skills in listening comprehension of short stories and language comprehension. [Ned’s] verbal reasoning and comprehension were very good. Phonological skills were also good. [Ned] demonstrated good receptive/expressive vocabulary, but word retrieval difficulty was noted at the individual word level and during conversations. During open-ended tasks such as conversations, language formulation was characterized by slow production, with frequent pauses and verbal revisions. Speech production was imprecise, due to speech apraxia. Socially, [Ned] is friendly and wants to please peers and adults. At times he has trouble interpreting social situations and knowing how to respond.

Ned has also received private speech therapy from Carla Bernier who, on March 10, 2010, administered the Test of Auditory Processing Skills – 3 rd edition (TAPS -3), a test that primarily focuses on the higher-order functioning involved in using auditory information in the understanding of spoken language. Ms. Bernier results were incorporated into S-29. Although Ned’s subtest scores were variable, all fell within the average range. (See S-29.)

Dr. Christine Sadowski conducted Ned’s independent psychological evaluation at Children’s in May 2011 (P-6). She summarized the findings of the evaluation as follows, in P-6:

Taken together, the current findings reveal a very complex picture characterized by deficits in auditory learning, visual and verbal memory, and executive functioning consistent with a diagnosis of Cognitive Disorder, NOS (294.9) as well as ADHD-Inattentive Type (314.01), learning challenges (315.9), the sequelae of motor and verbal apraxia (781.3), and associated adjustment related emotional issues (309.28).

Dr. Sadowski explained in her testimony:

He had a prior diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, as well as a previous diagnosis of apraxia and a previous diagnosis of a learning disorder.

I ended up giving him a diagnosis of cognitive disorder NOS to try to capture the extent of his difficulties, which sort of goes beyond learning, but he also had trouble with executive functioning, even though he was on medication which, per rating scale from parents and school seem to indicate that the medication is pretty effective… And then with some of the apraxia, I felt like that maybe the best way to capture things would be with a diagnosis of cognitive disorder NOS. Tr. Day 1 p 29.

An educational assessment was also performed as part of Ned’s independent evaluation at Children’s by Rachel Currie-Rubin, an educator at Children’s Division of Developmental Medicine, on April 15, 2011. The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – 3 rd edition (WIAT-III) was administered as part of this assessment. Ned was then at a 4.7 grade level. He received the following grade level (GL) scores and standard scores (SS) which fell into the following ranges (average SS = 90-109):

WIAT Subject Area GL SS Range

Word Reading 3.4 91 Average

Pseudoword Decoding 6.7 107 Average

Oral Reading Fluency 4.2 97 Average

Oral Reading Accuracy 2.3 85 Low Average

Oral Reading Rate 4.1 96 Average

Reading Comprehension 2.7 92 Average

Spelling 3.1 86 Low Average

Numerical Operations 2.2 71 Borderline

Math Problem Solving 3.0 81 Low Average
(See P-6 for the comprehensive testing done by Children’s.)

PARENTS’ PROPOSED PROGRAM

Parents propose that NPS should place and fund Ned at Curtis Blake School (CB). CB is a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Educational (MDESE) approved private special education day school placement. CB is part of American International College (AIC) and is located in Springfield, MA.

CB is a substantially separate placement for children who have language based learning disabilities. Students are of average to above average intelligence and have difficulties in the area of literary–listening, speaking, reading and writing. Diagnoses include specific language impairment, dyslexia and nonverbal learning disabilities. Language based strategies for listening, speaking, reading and writing are integrated across the day in all subject areas including math, science and social studies, as well as non-academics such as physical education and lunchtime.

All students receive one period per day (35 minutes) of 1:1 reading instruction in decoding, comprehension or both. Students also receive one period per day of instruction in the Benchmark program (similar to the Orton-Gillingham or Wilson programs); one period per day in the Lindamood program; and one period per day of writing and language arts. There are five speech-language pathologists for the 65 students at CB. Apraxia is one of the areas that can be addressed. Students attend a social pragmatics class with a speech language pathologist at least twice per week. All academic classes are taught by certified special education teachers except math, which is taught by a certified math teacher.

There are currently five fifth graders at CB who are grouped together for social studies and science. Benchmark, Lindamood and math classes are grouped by ability level. Reading is 1:1.

CB has reviewed Ned’s records and finds him to be an appropriate candidate. CB admits both privately and publicly funded students.
(See testimony, LaFontaine; S-51)

SCHOOL’S PROPOSED PROGRAM

NPS’ proposed IEP for Ned, and under which he currently continues to be educated, is classified under state regulations as a substantially separate special education program because more than 60% of Ned’s time is spent in special education classes. Ned receives his reading, writing, and English/language arts in Bridge Street School’s Learning Disabilities Program (LDP) for two hours per day, five days per week, in the LDP room. Ned also receives special education math in the special education resource room for one hour per day, five days per week. Ned receives speech-language therapy for 30 minutes, three days per week in small groups of 2-3:1 with the speech-language pathologist; occupational therapy for 30 minutes once per week from the occupational therapist; and counseling for 30 minutes once per week in a small group setting from the school adjustment counselor. Ned is accompanied by a paraprofessional from the LDP program to social studies and science, which are delivered in the regular education 5 th grade classroom. Ned receives all non-academics such as physical education, music, art, recess and lunch within the mainstream setting. Pursuant to the June 2011 IEP Amendment, NPS provided a five week summer program consisting of reading and math tutoring two hours per day, three days per week and speech-language therapy for ½ hour once per week.

Ned’s LDP teacher is Ms. Willis who has a Bachelor’s Degree in speech pathology and audiology, a Master’s Degree in education of the deaf and is a certified special education teacher. Ms. Willis taught at Clark School for the Deaf in Northampton for eleven years before coming to NPS where she has taught the LDP for the past fourteen years. Ned’s speech-language pathologist is Ms. Johnson who has a Master’s Degree in speech-language pathology and is a licensed speech-language pathologist, as well as having her Certificate of Clinical Competency (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She has thirty-three years of experience as a speech-language pathologist, the last eighteen years in NPS. Ned’s school adjustment counselor is Ms. Sperry who has a Master’s Degree is social work, is a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW), and is a licensed school adjustment counselor. She has ten years of experience, the last six years as a school adjustment counselor in NPS. Ned’s fifth grade classroom teacher is Mr. Dion who has a Master’s Degree in elementary education and is certified in elementary education grades one through six. Mr. Dion has been the fifth grade classroom teacher for six years. Ned’s special education math teacher is Ms. Szumere who is new to NPS this year. She is certified in special needs and elementary education grades one through six. She has been a special education teacher in grades one through five for seven years.
(See P-1, 2; S-44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 52; testimony, Willis; Johnson; Sperry; Dion; Szumere.)

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

It is undisputed by the parties and confirmed by the evidence presented that Ned is a student with special education needs as defined under state and federal statute and regulations. The fundamental issues in dispute are listed under ISSUES IN DISPUTE , above.

Pursuant to Schaffer v. Weast 126 S.Ct. 528 (2005) the United States Supreme Court has placed the burden of proof in special education administrative hearings upon the party seeking relief. Therefore, in the instant case, Parents bear the burden of proof in demonstrating that NPS’ proposed IEP, as amended, is not appropriate to address Ned’s special education needs as so to provide him with FAPE in the least restrictive educational environment; and that placement of Ned at CB is appropriate to provide him FAPE in the least restrictive educational environment.

Based upon the oral testimony and exhibits introduced into evidence, and a review of the applicable law, I conclude that NPS’ proposed March 2011-March 2012 IEP, as amended on June 23, 2012, is appropriate to address Ned’s special education need so as to provide him FAPE, and does so in the least restrictive educational environment.

My analysis follows.

Parents’ entire case for placement of Ned at CB is essentially based upon the Children’s educational and psychological evaluations (which comprised the independent evaluation done in April and May 2011, P-6) and the testimony of Dr. Sadowski, who performed the psychological evaluation component on May 4, 2011. Dr. Sadowski characterized P-6 as a joint report because she and Ms. Currie-Rubin (who conducted the educational assessment) work collaboratively, but only Dr. Sadowski signed P-6. (See testimony, Sadowski; P-6.)2

The comprehensive Children’s psychological and educational evaluation is 24 pages long. However, the crux of Parents’ appeal can be found in P-6 on page 16 as follows:

F. General Educational Recommendations

1. On educational testing [Ned] demonstrated difficulties recalling directions and appeared to have significant difficulties with working memory, which was confirmed on neuropsychological testing. [Ned] also carries a diagnosis of oral and motor apraxia, which impacts his spoken language as well as his written language. He demonstrated difficulties with formulating his ideas in both oral and written language. Because of these challenges, it is recommended that [Ned] receive full-day and year-round placement in a classroom for children with language based learning disabilities. This placement is essential for him to receive the type of support he needs throughout the class day. He will require supports throughout the school day for content area classes. He also requires instruction in strategies for recalling information and for using learning strategies during all areas of instruction.

The following exchange took place at the hearing between Parents’ attorney and Dr. Sadowski Tr. Day 1 p. 31-32:

Q. Okay. What did you recommend?

A. We recommended a small, language-based full-day, full year program.

Q. And why?

A. Because of how complex [Ned] is with deficits in language, secondary to apraxia, with deficits in attention and executive functioning related to ADHD and with these deficits in memory and verbal and visual domains. I think it would be very difficult for him to effectively negotiate the school environment and learn effectively in a regular school environment.

Q. And it’s fair to say that you have not observed the classroom?

A. I have not.

Q. And you have not spoken with the classroom teacher either this year or last year, correct?

A. I have not.

Q. So your recommendations are just based on the testing that you performed?

A. Yes.

Shortly thereafter, the Hearing Officer asked Dr. Sadowski the following questions Tr. Day 1 p. 34:

Q. Did you form an opinion with regard to [Ned’s] – based on the evaluations that you did, based upon the documents that you reviewed, did you form an opinion regarding [Ned’s] functioning at school?

A. Yes.

Q. What is that opinion?

A. That – my opinion is that it would be very difficult, given the complexity of his problems for his needs to be met in a regular education setting, particularly as he moves on to middle school where there’s greater – and high school where there’s greater demands for attention, organization, self-monitoring, those executive functioning and also greater memory demands. So I would think that that would be quite challenging for him.

Directly after that the School’s attorney asked Dr. Sadowski the following questions T. Day 1 p. 35:

Q. So you did not observe [Ned] in his L.D. program back at Northampton; is that correct?

A. No.

Q. And you never observed him in a regular education setting back in Northampton, correct?

A. No.

Q. Now, did Rachel Currie observe him in the L.D. program?

A. No.

Q. Did she observe him in the mainstream?

A. No.

Later Dr. Sadowski testified that she has never spoken to Ms. Willis, Ned’s L.D. teacher; Ms. Sperry, his school adjustment counselor; or Ms. Cooper his then 4 th grade classroom teacher. Dr. Sadowski also testified that she does not think that she has reviewed the June 2011 IEP amendment that was written by NPS in response to her evaluation; and that she has never observed any public school program in Massachusetts. (See testimony, Sadowski, Tr. Day 1 p.41-43.)

Based upon the above, I find that Dr. Sadowski’s recommendation for a small language based full day program was based: 1) purely on the Children’s testing, the educational portion of which she did not perform; 2) with no observation of Ned’s NPS program, either special education or regular education, by either herself or the Children’s educator, Ms. Currie-Rubin; and 3) with no meetings or conversations with any of Ned’s NPS service providers3 .

Further, Dr. Sadowski’s testimony, quoted above, referred to Ned as being in a “regular school placement” and in a “regular education setting.” Ned’s IEP and educational placement at NPS, described under SCHOOL’S PROPOSED PROGRAM above, is definitely not a regular school placement. In fact, in terms of actual academic time in science and social studies, Ned spends at most one hour per day within the regular education classroom. (See testimony, Cooper; Dion.)

Finally, the IEP at issue before me expires in March 2012 when Ned is in 5 th grade. A new IEP will have to be written for Ned for the remainder of 5 th grade and into 6 th grade next year when he moves to middle school. I can only consider what is before me – not an IEP that has yet to be written for Ned in middle school and certainly not 3 ½ years into the future when he goes to high school.

Dr. Sadowski testified that she spent about four hours doing Ned’s psychological testing and that Ms. Currie-Rubin spent two-three hours conducting Ned’s educational testing. In contrast, Ms. Willis, Ned’s special education teacher in NPS’ LDP, has been his teacher since he entered her program in first grade. Therefore, she has taught and interacted with Ned for two hours every day for the last 4 ½ years. Ms. Johnson has also been Ned’s speech-language pathologist for the last 4 ½ years, seeing him three times per week over that extended time period. Ms. Sperry has been Ned’s school adjustment counselor for the last 4 ½ years seeing him once per week for group counseling over that extended time period. These professionals have also evaluated Ned in their areas of expertise, not only for his last three year school re-evaluation in March 2010 (see BRIEF PROFILE OF STUDENT above; S-26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32), but also at other points in time both prior to and subsequent to the March 2010 re-evaluation. (See S-16, 23, 24, 37.) These professionals are clearly in a position to assess Ned’s academic progress and educational growth over both the short term and long term, and to best understand Ned’s learning style and what strategies and methodologies work best with him. Therefore, I must afford their testimony considerable weight.

Ms. Willis testified that Ned has never been in a group larger than seven students in the LDP, and that this year there are a total of five students in the program. In addition to Ms. Willis, the LDP is staffed by a paraprofessional (ESP), Ms. Ospowitz, who has been working with Ms. Willis in the LDP for the last three years. Another ESP, Ms. Hershkowitz, is also assigned to the ESP. Her role is to assist LDP students in the mainstream setting and to provide consistency between the LDP and regular education classroom. Ms. Hershkowitz has been working with Ms. Willis and the LDP for the past eight years and worked with Ned in both his third and fourth grade regular education classes. (See testimony, Willis; Hershkowitz.)

Ms. Willis testified that Ned’s reading has improved, that he has made significant progress, that he now is reading 4 th and 5 th grade level passages, and that Ned really sees himself as a reader now. Ms. Willis testified that Ned has progressed in independent work skills and is very confident within the entire school environment. She stated that Ned has progressed in written language, but that it is still an area of concern, being addressed on a daily basis. Ms. Willis testified that during 4 th grade there were issues with Ned’s attention and distractibility. During that time, medication was being tried, there were changes in medication, and Parents informed her that Children’s believed Ned had been overmedicated for a time, but towards the end of the 4 th grade year (2010-2011) things had settled down. (See testimony, Willis; see also testimony, Parent; Cooper.)

Ms. Johnson testified regarding the speech-language services she provides to Ned and the progress he has made. Ms. Johnson testified how she adjusted his speech-language therapy sessions from two 1:1 sessions and one small group session per week to three small group sessions because Ned had problems staying focused in the individual sessions, but was much more engaged in a small group session. Ms. Johnson testified that she uses a three to one model which is three weeks of doing the speech-language therapy sessions on a pull out basis, and then spending one week within the regular education classroom observing, working with students and consulting to the regular education teacher. Ms. Johnson also testified to her familiarity with Ms. Willis’ LDP, and that language based instruction and reinforcement of language occurs throughout the time Ned is working in the LDP (See testimony, Johnson).

Ms. Sperry testified that she has provided counseling to Ned via a social skills group with same aged peers since 1 st grade. She testified to Ned’s effective progress within the social skills group in terms of social skill development, social interactions with peers and his ability to initiate and sustain conversations. (See testimony, Sperry.)

Both Ms. Willis and Ms. Sperry testified regarding how Ned comes to their class/group and shares with them things that he has learned in his 5 th grade regular education social studies class. Both referenced how Ned explained to them about the Continental Congress. Ms. Willis also referenced Ned sharing with her about science lessons regarding the phases of the moon and the solar system. (See testimony, Willis; Sperry; Dion.)

I find that on WJ-III testing administered by NPS in March 2010, Ned’s achievement scores were then approximately at grade level to one year below grade level. Similarly, on the 2011 Children’s testing, out of nine subtest areas on the WIAT-III achievement tests, Ned scored in the average range on five, the low average range on three and borderline on only one subtest, in math. (See PROFILE OF STUDENT , above.)

In summary, I conclude that NPS’ proposed March 2011-March 2012 IEP, as amended by the June 23, 2011 amendment, provides Ned FAPE. Based upon the testimony of the teachers and therapists who have worked with Ned for over a four year period, Ned has most definitely made educational progress.

Clearly Ned has multiple and significant special education needs which require intensive remediation. Based upon the totality of evidence presented, I conclude that the proposed IEP, as amended, provides such intensive remediation. Ned receives two hours daily of small group language based instruction in the LDP. As his math problems become more apparent in third grade, Ned’s math was changed from regular education to one hour per day in the special education resource room. He has always received speech-language therapy three times per week to address his speech and language disabilities and social skills group counseling weekly to address social/interpersonal needs. Summer programming was added to address Dr. Sadowski’s concern for year round educational services. I find that NPS has been flexible in adjusting Ned’s IEP to meet his special education needs and that his special education program in NPS has worked for him.

I also conclude that Ned derives great benefit from being in the mainstream with regular education students for one hour per day for social studies and science and all non-academic subject areas. Ms. Dion’s testimony was replete with examples of how Ned benefits from being in the regular education fifth grade classroom, and was reinforced by Ms. Willis’ and Ms. Sperry’s testimony regarding Ned’s enthusiasm about his social studies and science class and how he interacts with students at lunch and recess. (See testimony, Dion; Willis; Sperry.) Such mainstreaming is entirely consistent with the mandate of both state and federal special education law that students receive their special education services in the least restrictive educational environment possible.

ORDER

NPS’ proposed IEP, as amended, provides Ned FAPE in the least restrictive education environment.

______________________

Hearing Officer __________________

Date


1

Ned is a pseudonym chosen by the Hearing Officer to protect the privacy of the student in publicly available documents.


2

Dr. Sadowski testified that she reviewed the NPS evaluations and assessments done for Ned’s three year re-evaluation in 2010 (testimony, Sadowski.)


3

Indeed, Dr. Sadowski did not attend the team meeting in June 2011 which considered her independent evaluation.


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