Student v. Georgetown Public Schools – BSEA #02-2627
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS
Student v. Georgetown Public Schools
This decision is issued pursuant to M.G.L. c. 71B and 30A, 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq ., 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the regulations promulgated under said statutes.
A hearing was held on June 3, June 4 June 5, and June 61 , at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, before Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn, Hearing Officer.
The Parents requested a hearing on January 30, 2002. An initial hearing date was scheduled for February 19, 2002. On February 4, 200, the School District requested a postponement which the BSEA granted and the matter was scheduled for a Pre-Hearing Conference on April 2, 2002. During the April 2 Pre-Hearing Conference a Hearing was scheduled for May 14, 16, and 24. The School District requested a postponement of the Hearing due to staff scheduling conflicts arising from the administration of the MCAS exam on the assigned Hearing dates. The postponement request was granted and the matter was scheduled for a Hearing on June 3, 4, and 5. There was a conference call on May 23, 2002. The Hearing was held on June 3, 4, and 5 and on June 6, Carol Cook concluded her testimony via telephone. On June 7, 2002 the Hearing Officer issued an Order that written closing arguments were due no later than the close of business on June 26, 2002. The School submitted written closing arguments on June 26, 2002 and the record closed. The Parents did not request an extension of the time for which to submit a closing argument. However, on July 2, 2002, the Parents submitted their written closing argument. The Hearing Officer issued an Order on August 6, 2002, for Student’s continued placement at the Georgetown Public Schools and indicated that the full decision would be issued subsequently.
Those present for all or part of the Hearing were:
Carol Cook2 Director, Center for Optimum Learning
Alanna G. Cline Attorney for the Parents/Student
Patricia White-Lambright Director of Special Education, Georgetown Public Schools
Lyn O’Neal Special Education Coordinator, Georgetown Public Schools
Barbara Kowalski Special Education Tutor/Wilson Instructor, Georgetown Public Schools
Elizabeth Hudson Special Education Teacher, Georgetown Public Schools
Heather Stead Speech Language Pathologist, Georgetown Public Schools
Thomas J. Nuttal Attorney, Georgetown Public Schools
Norm Sherman Legal Intern, BSEA
Beth Leopold Legal Intern, BSEA
Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn Hearing Officer
The official record of this hearing consists of documents submitted by the Parents, marked 1 through 20, documents submitted by the School, marked 1 through 33 and approximately 18 hours of recorded oral testimony. The School submitted a written closing argument on June 26, 2001. Although Parents did not request an extension of time to file the closing argument, there was no objection raised by the School when Parents submitted their closing argument on July 2, 2002. Therefore, the record closed on July 2, 2002.
1. Whether the IEP for the 2001-2002 school year is reasonably calculated to provide the student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
2. If not, whether the Center of Optimum Learning is the setting which would have provided the student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
3. Whether the student is entitled to compensatory services for the 2001-2002 school year.
The IEP proposed for the 2001-2002 school year was not reasonably calculated to provide Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Georgetown did not provide all of the services recommended by the independent evaluators as they agreed to do. Georgetown is not capable of providing said services in the course of the regular school day. The Center for Optimum Learning is the setting which would have provided Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Student is entitled to receive compensatory services due to the excessive absences of some staff members from Student’s program and the insufficiency of the services provided to Student.
Student is a child of low average cognitive ability, with a language-based learning disability impacting her acquisition of reading, written language, and mathematics skills as well as the existence of visual processing problems. She is a happy, well-adjusted child with many friends. Student has made excellent progress within Georgetown’s intensive language-based program during the 2001-2002 school year. The Georgetown program is the most appropriate program to meet Student’s needs. The COOL School program is overly restrictive and inappropriate for Student. Student is not entitled to receive any compensatory educational services associated with the 2001-2002 school year as the services provided to her provided her with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE
1. The student (“Student”) is a thirteen-year-old seventh grade student residing in Georgetown, Massachusetts, within the Georgetown School District (hereafter, “Georgetown”). (P-4; S-33) She has been diagnosed as dyslexic and displays characteristics of ADD in the classroom. (S-25)
2. Psychologist, Karen Baker, performed a psycho-educational evaluation3 of Student on February 9 and 10, 1999. She noted that Student was cooperative and worked well during testing and needed reminders on some of the hands-on sub-test items. Ms. Baker reported Student’s IQ scores as follows: Verbal: 98 (average), Performance: 74 (borderline); Full-Scale: 85 (low average). Student was in the fourth grade and her teacher reported she was working at the third grade level and needed to strengthen her language skills. Ms. Baker observed that Student’s score in Perceptual Organization was especially low. Projective testing found “no significant emotionality that would affect [Student]’s ability to perform adequately in the school setting.” Ms. Baker concluded that Student has a deficit in the area of perceptual organization and visual perceptual processing. She recommended that Student continue to receive special education services. (P-1)
3. Argie Tiliakos (hereafter, “Tiliakos”), a licensed psychologist from Massachusetts General Hospital’s Psychology Assessment Center, performed a neuropsychological evaluation of Student on November 21, 20004 . Tiliakos described Student as “lovely, friendly, talkative and cooperative with a likeable personality and good sense of humor. She noted her concentration was satisfactory and that she lacked self-confidence and experienced feelings of inadequacy over reading. She summarized her findings and concluded that Student displayed “solidly average verbal abstract reasoning and verbal comprehension” with average potential for learning. She noted an impaired visual memory for designs, but noted that it improved to the normal range when there was repetition of material. She noted executive functions involving mental flexibility, planning and organization as areas of weakness. She noted that Student’s contextual decoding abilities were at the fourth grade level and single word reading was at the mid-third to early fourth grade level with reading comprehension at the third grade level. She found Student’s phonological processing deficient and noted that Student’s spelling skills were at the third grade level and written expression was impaired. She also noted deficits in math reasoning and comprehension. (P-2)
Tiliakos concluded that Student’s “results are consistent with a significant case of dyslexia and [Student] exhibits the deficits in phonological development characteristic of this disorder.” She also concluded she exhibited deficits in visual processing and executive functioning and stated that she had problems with attention and should be monitored carefully in that area. She noted her deficiencies in the areas of reading, spelling, writing, and math. She also referenced low self-esteem and considerable frustration relating to her struggles with her academics. (P-2)
Tiliakos recommended that Student receive Orton-Gillingham or Wilson Method instruction 4 x 60/minutes per week to address her decoding and spelling skills and recommended that the services continue over the summer. She recommended instruction in the area of written expression and suggested strategies to be used including brainstorming, use of webs and mapping, and outlining. She recommended continued academic support in math. She also recommended that Student receive instruction regarding organizational and study skills to compensate for her weakness with executive functions. She recommended a series of classroom accommodations including pre-teaching, highlighting of important concepts, providing outlines/notes, multi-sensory instruction, preferential seating, modified reading and writing assignments, allowing Student extra time to complete work, and use of taped books. She also recommended careful monitoring of Student’s self-esteem. (P-2)
4. Kerry Howland, a speech-language pathologist with the Children’s Hospital Medical Care Center-Peabody, performed a speech and language evaluation of Student on December 22, 20005 . She noted Student was pleasant, cooperative, and engaging and sustained attention and effort throughout the test. She concluded that Student’s receptive language testing “placed her within normal limits on measures that assessed her vocabulary development and her comprehension/recall of complex grammatical forms.” She could identify the main idea of passages and could interpret non-literal language. She had difficulty inferencing and with “flexible language interpretation.” With respect to expressive language, Student had occasional word retrieval difficulties, but did well on “basic formulation tasks.” She “broke down on tasks that posed heavy demands for organization and integrative thinking.” She recommended that Student receive speech-language services twice per week for forty-five to sixty minutes per session. She recommended that the following areas be addressed during her sessions: specific strategies for compensation for word retrieval difficulties; improving inferencing skills; providing opportunities for Student to use language in a precise manner; teaching Student flexible language comprehension strategies; providing assistance with text-book comprehension; and the use of graphic organizers. She also recommended a series of classroom modifications. (P-3)
5. The IEP proposed after the March 2, 2001 meeting described Student as having a diagnosis of dyslexia and exhibiting difficulty in reading, spelling and math. She was also described as “displaying characteristics like ADD” and distraction and being a hard worker who displays good effort toward school work. The vision statement says that the Parents are requesting the Landmark summer program and looking into Landmark for the remainder of the current year. The following accommodations are described: modified tests read orally with clarification as needed, spelling not graded in other subject areas, assistance with editing and proofreading, and extended time for reading and writing assignments.
6. The service delivery grid provided for the following services: consultation by “SPED Teacher” 1 x 15 minutes per week; speech and language consult 1 x 30 minutes per week. The following direct services were proposed in the general education classroom: speech and language 2 x 30 minutes per week from 3/02/2001-3/01/2002; CoTaught LA (Language Arts) 6 x 45 minutes per week from 3/02/2001-6/22/2001; CoTaught LA 3 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/2001-3/01/2002; CoTaught Math 6 x 45 minutes per week from 3/02/2001-6/22/2001; CoTaught Math 3 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/2001- 3/01/2002; CoTaught Science 6 x 45 minutes per week from 3/02/2001-6/22/2001; CoTaught Science 3 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/2001- 3/01/2002; CoTaught Social Studies 6 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/2001- 3/01/2002; ; CoTaught Social Studies 3 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/2001- 3/01/2002. Additionally, the following services were to be provided in another setting: Wilson reading 6 x 45 minutes from 3/02/2001-3/01/2002; Direct Study 3 x 45 minutes per week from 3/02/2001-6/22/2001; Direct Study 6 x 45 minutes per week from 9/05/01-3/01/2002. The IEP also provided for Student’s participation in a six week summer program. (S-33, P-4)
7. Mother signed the IEP on May 22, 2001 and indicated that she consented on an interim basis “until the Landmark placement.” Mother testified that she rejected the IEP. She found the goals and objectives to be immeasurable and inadequate. (Mother) She indicated that she was rejecting portions of the IEP and attached a letter to the partially rejected IEP which stated that Parents rejected the “lack of sufficient services to deal with [Student]’s dyslexia, language disability, and mathematics disabilities.” Parents requested immediate placement and summer services at the Landmark School. (S-33, P-4) Mother testified that she applied to the Landmark School, the Carroll School and Learning Prep because she was advised by Lyn O’Neal, as well as during the Team meeting to apply there. (Mother) Ms. O’Neal did not recall advising Mother to apply to those schools. (O’Neal)
8. Mother testified that she requested that Patty White Lambright send referral packets to out-of-district placements either at the end of Student’s sixth grade or beginning of seventh grade. Georgetown responded that it was not their intention to send packets to out-of-district placements. (Mother)
9. Georgetown’s March 18, 2001 Progress Report in the area of language arts indicated that Student was improving her ability to decode multisyllabic words and her speed and accuracy although she may continue to have difficulty with an unfamiliar word. She was reported to be able to write two simple paragraphs with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation after using editing strategies with assistance. In the area of reading comprehension she was reported to be developing her use of inferencing and comprehension of figurative language. In the area of math she was reportedly working on place values and able to tell time to the minute. She was able to add and subtract three digit numbers with regrouping and was working on reinforcing her math facts. (S-32) On May 4, 2001, she was reportedly making progress in the Wilson program. (S-31)
10. On May 22, Mother sent a letter to Patty White Lambright requesting a meeting to discuss Parents’ partial rejection of the March 2001-March 2002 IEP. (S-30) On May 30, 2001, Georgetown sent Parents an invitation to attend a Team meeting on June 12, 2001. (S-29)
11. On June 7, 2001, Jane Bloom, the Associate Director of Admissions at the Landmark School, sent a letter to the Parents indicating that Landmark was not an appropriate placement for Student. (S-28)
12. There was a Team meeting on June 12, 2001. Mother informed the Team that she was rejecting the previously proposed March 2001-March 2002 IEP and wanted Student placed in an out-of district placement. Student’s skills and progress were discussed and she was reported to show nervousness and anxiety which impacted her reading comprehension. Ms. Kowalski reported Student was progressing, but still read for “decoding” rather than comprehension. A Teacher Meeting Feedback Form completed by Barbara Kowalski, on June 12, 2001, indicated that Student was working very hard and making steady progress in the Wilson Reading Program. (S-27) Continued Wilson tutoring was recommended for the summer and the next year. Student was reportedly struggling with math. There was discussion about Liz Hudson teaching her in a structured math class using manipulatives and accommodations. The program for the following year was discussed and Mother raised concerns about there being gaps in the program. There was discussion of providing Student with two small group language arts classes and providing her a program with three specialists integrated into it. Mother continued to believe Student required an out-of-district placement and Georgetown believed it could provide appropriate services. (S-26)
13. Georgetown proposed an IEP on or about June 22, 2001. The IEP indicated that Student could decode at the fourth grade level, but not fluently. It indicated that her lack of comprehension was her greatest need and her anxiety was impacting her performance in the areas of reading and math. Her difficulty with understanding inferences and flexible language interpretation was noted as was her occasional word retrieval difficulty. The vision statement described Georgetown’s view that she should remain in the Georgetown Public Schools and the Parents’ intention to inquire about outside placement. Accommodations included those listed on the previous IEP and additionally, the provision of study guides, small group instruction, use of manipulatives in math, word banks, graphic organizers, semantic webbing, wait time for oral responses, organizational strategies and assistance, modified assignments, provision of notes of material to be presented, pre-teaching new vocabulary, preferential seating, repetition of directions and checking for understanding. Her instruction was to be provided in small groups by special education teachers, a speech/language therapist, and reading specialists. (S-25)
The service delivery grid provided for consultation and direct services in and out of the general education setting. There was to be consultation by the special education teacher and the special education staff for fifteen minutes per week. There was to be co-Taught language arts; co-Taught Math, co-Taught Science; and co-Taught Social Studies 6 x 45 minutes per week until June 22, 2001. All of the co-Taught classes were to be taught by special education teachers. (S-25)
There was to be Wilson instruction 6 x 45 minutes per week from 6/12/01-6/12/02; directed study 3 x 45 minutes per week through June 2001 and 6 x 45 minutes per week from 9/01-6/02. Social Studies services were to be provided 6 x 45 minutes per week by the SLP/Reading teacher in a substantially separate class from 9/5/01-6/12/02; math was offered 6 x 45 minutes per week with a special education teacher in a substantially separate classroom from 9/5/01-6/12/02. Science was offered 6 x 45 minutes per week with a special education teacher in a substantially separate classroom. Language Arts were to be provided by the speech/language pathologist or reading specialist 6 x 45 minutes per week from 9/5/01-6/12/02. Counseling was offered with a counselor two times per month from 6/12/01-6/12/02. A six week summer program was proposed. (S-25) The record does not indicate what if any action the Parents took with respect to the above referenced IEP.
14. During the summer of 2001, Student received summer services consisting of one to one tutoring in reading and math. (Mother)
15. Robert L. Kemper, Ph.D., completed a psycholinguistic evaluation6 of Student on August 22, 2001. He wrote a report of his findings. (S-23, P-5) In assessing Student’s oral language and use, Dr. Kemper noted Student’s scores were indicative of a “word retrieval difficulty.” Student scored in the below average range on the OWLS in the areas of Listening Comprehension, Oral Expression, and Oral Language Composite. In assessing the area of Written Language Abilities, Dr. Kemper noted that Student’s “single word recognition rate and her phonemic decoding rate were extremely slow and labored.” He noted that on the Slosson Oral Reading Test, Student was able to read most of the words through the fifth grade reading level, but that her raw score dropped “precipitously” at the sixth grade level. Student’s performance on the Gray Oral Reading Tests (GORT-3) “revealed significant weaknesses, with respect to the automaticity and fluency aspects of oral reading, that were in contrast to a relative strength with respect to oral reading comprehension.” On the Test of Reading Comprehension (TORC-3) Student’s scores ranged from average to below average. She demonstrated a strength in her ability to generalize her “strong oral lexical skills to a reading context.” She had a “great deal of difficulty when she was required to process written information in the form of directions or a narrative.” On the Test of Written Language-3 (TOWL-3) Student’s spontaneous writing ability was found to be in the below average range. In the area of “Underpinning Literacy Acquisition” Student was administered the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP). Her scores showed weaknesses in phonological awareness and rapid naming skills. She showed a strength with respect to phonological memory. Dr. Kemper’s report indicated that students who score in the below average range in the areas of Phonological Awareness and Rapid Naming suffer from a double deficit and are considered to be at high risk for reading failure. (Insert testimony describing double deficit.) (S-23, P-5)
Dr. Kemper concluded that Student presented with “most of the signs and symptomatology that, most often, are associated with a diagnosis of dyslexia. In addition, he found that Student presents with a “Specific Language Impairment” that is manifested in difficulties with word retrieval, listening comprehension, oral expression, and phonological processing. He found that her single word receptive vocabulary was within the average range in contrast to a below average score on a test of single word expressive vocabulary which is indicative of a word retrieval problem. He also noted deficits in her listening comprehension and oral expression skills which would likely cause Student to “encounter difficulties processing and expressing information during typical classroom discourse activities such as question/answer periods and extended discussions.” He found that “her current reading skills would not support the reading demands of a typical seventh grade curriculum.” He found her written expressive skills to be well below average. He strongly recommended that Student’s Team consider her for alternative educational programming.
Dr. Kemper made a series of recommendations for Student. He recommended that she be enrolled in a “multisensory, structured language program…to provide direct, remedial, instructional methodologies…via a multisensory presentation of information.” He recommended a small student/teacher ratio, not greater than 8:1. He recommended direct teaching performed in a systematic manner, with continuous review of previously learned information in order to facilitate generalization. He found it extremely important for all of Student’s teachers to have training to provide multisensory, structured language instruction. He also recommended that Student have daily individual tutorial “in which a multisensory, code emphasis program is provided for reading, spelling, and written language instruction.” In the report, he recommended that Student be provided a residential placement, but testified that he had erroneously included that recommendation in the report. He made extensive recommendations in the areas of Oral Language Processing and Use, Reading/Spelling, and Written Language Expression. (See S-23, P-5 pgs 13-15) His recommended modifications and accommodations included the following: “multisensory, highly structured, adult-directed activities with organized materials, clear directions, visual cues, clearly defined transition time and a hierarchical system of prompts in order to facilitate her participation.” He recommended that information be presented in a structured, organized and systematic manner accompanied by visual/organizational aids. He recommended multisensory, structured, language-based teaching strategies to be incorporated into all class lessons in all subject areas. Language input to Student was to be modified to allow for easier processing of information and to enhance comprehension. Teachers should continuously model appropriate language and question students to elicit elaboration of language. Student should be given additional time to formulate and produce responses. The teacher should frequently check Student’s processing/comprehension of information to ensure her understanding. The teacher should reword, simplify, or repeat directions in addition to using cues and establishing eye contact. The teacher should use spiral teaching techniques to facilitate internalization/automatization of skills.
Dr. Kemper determined that Student would benefit from participation in the Fast Forward Program. He recommended that she be seen for a Psycholinguistic Reevaluation in approximately one year to assess her status. (S-23, P-5)
Dr. Kemper testified that he is a psycholinguist and is licensed in Massachusetts and Maine as a speech language pathologist. He stated that he reviewed Student’s prior testing, proposed IEP, parent questionnaire, and had a brief telephone conversation with Mother prior to evaluating Student. He stated that Student’s evaluations indicated she had dyslexia and he wanted to specifically look at Student’s oral language processing and expression; reading; written expression; and phonological processing. He testified that he was concerned by what he described as a “double deficit” in that Student scored in the below average range in measures of both phonological awareness and rapid naming. He explained that some of Student’s skills were in the moderate range of disability, but he found that Student’s dyslexia was severe. He found that both Student’s decoding ability and her ability to read connected text and writing ability were in the “severe” range.
16. Susan Grant, M.Ed., conducted an educational evaluation of Student on August 27, 2001. She administered the following tests: The Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, II; the Gray Oral Reading Test, third edition, Form A; the Test of Written Language, third edition7 . She did not conduct her own cognitive testing of Student. (Grant) She noted that Student seemed quite comfortable in the testing situation, was calm and attended well. (S-21, P-6)
17. Ms. Grant observed Student in school on September 18, 2001 during Geography, Language Arts, and Science, approximately two and a half hours. (Grant) She noted that the classes were small and used a curriculum that parallelled the regular seventh grade curriculum, but used different materials, modifications, and a reduced pace. In Geography, taught by the speech language pathologist, Ms. Stead, Student was attentive, actively engaged, and often raised her hand during the discussion. When Student had difficulty formulating her answers, she responded well to “wait time, cueing and encouragement from Ms. Stead.” Ms. Stead also taught Student’s Language Arts class. Student was engaged in that class as well. Ms. Grant then observed Student in science class with Ms. Hudson. The class was conducting an experiment using the scientific method and seven regular education peers had joined the class to participate in the experiment. Student was completely engaged, very attentive, and followed directions well. After conducting their experiment, the students discussed the results and made their own bar graphs while Ms. Hudson drew a model graph on an easel. (S-21, P-6)
Ms. Grant concluded that Student had a good sense of self, a positive attitude, and a cooperative, motivated approach to work. She noted Studen’s stronger verbal than non-verbal skills. She found that the content of Student’s writing was developing well, but her poor visual processing contributes to the omission of words and letters in words. She found the “delay in [Student]’s math skills alarming” and concluded that Student lacks basic math facts and an understanding of basic concepts of fractions and decimals. In the area of Reading, Ms. Grant recommended Student continue to receive daily one to one Wilson Reading for 45-60 minutes. She recommended the use of books on tape and testified that she meant for the tapes to be used for novels. She also testified that Lyn O’Neal had told her that Student did not always want to take the books on tape home. She recommended reading comprehension instruction using the Project Read or Visualizing and Verbalizing program because “it would strengthen an area of weakness, her visual skills” and enhance her ability to understand material. (Grant) In the area of Written Language, she recommended Student be provided with a computer for all written assignments because she was “expending energy with the physical act of writing and does not have as much energy to expend on the writing process.” (Grant) She also recommended a computer program such as Write Out Loud or IBM Dragon Naturally Speaking or “less high tech strategies” such as having a parent or teacher read back to Student what she has written. She testified that “a less high tech alternative” would not be the “ideal” way for a student to become more independent. (Grant) She recommended that when appropriate, Student be allowed to respond verbally as an alternative to writing. For spelling, she recommended Student receive spelling instruction within her Wilson program or another program. She also recommended Student keep a file of her most commonly misspelled words and use a Franklin Speller. Ms. Grant testified that Student was not making progress in spelling despite receiving Wilson instruction and she thought she needed a more intensive program such as LIPS Seeing Stars. (Grant) She recommended the use of written cue cards with steps for editing when she edited her work. (S-21, P-6)
In math, Ms. Grant recommended Student have instruction in a small group with no more than eight students and multi-sensory instruction. She recommended that Student use a calculator and that she be instructed in basic skills such as fractions and decimals. She suggested the use of the Landmark method for math instruction. (S-21, P-6)
Ms. Grant recommended that Student be educated in an intensive, specialized setting, “totally designed for students with learning disabilities for all subjects, specialized curriculum and teaching strategies designed for students with learning disabilities” and small classes comprised of students with the same profile as Student. She testified that teachers should use a slower pace, reduce complexity and allow plenty of time for processing and response. (S-21, P-6, Grant)
Ms. Grant conducted updated testing of Student on December 10, 2001. She readministered the same tests she had administered in August 2001. Ms. Grant reported that Student presented as much more comfortable during the second session and she ““did not demonstrate the discrepancy between her demeanor during challenging academic tasks, and when engaged in casual conversation.” Student reported that she had improved all of her grades and her reading had improved. She also reported that she was embarrassed in school and sometimes lied to other students when they ask what class she is going to next. (Grant)
Ms. Grant reported Student’s performance on the August 2001 and December 2001 testing as follows, using grade equivalencies8 :
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, II
August 2001 December 2001
Word Reading 4.7 5.8
Reading Comprehension 6.3 7.5
Pseudoword Decoding 2.6 3.8
Numerical Operations 3.5 3.5
Mathematics Reasoning 4.0 4.6
Spelling 4.8 3.8
Written Expression 5.8 6.8
Gray Oral Reading Test, Third Edition
Rate 3.7 4.6
Accuracy 3.5 5.0
18. Ms. Grant noted that in the December testing Student misspelled two words that she had previously spelled correctly. (S-15, P-7) Ms. Grant reported that although Student’s reading rate was still significantly below grade level, it had improved from a 3.5 level to a 4.6 level in the four months since she had previously tested her. Student’s reading comprehension was at grade level, and Ms. Grant testified that the ultimate goal of reading instruction is comprehension. (S-15, P-7, Grant) She reported that Student’s writing continues to be well developed for content and organization, but weak in the area of writing mechanics. Student made some progress in her understanding of fractions, subtraction with regrouping, multiplication and division, but continues to perform below grade level. Ms. Grant again recommended daily Wilson Reading instruction, although daily Wilson Reading instruction had been provided since the beginning of the academic year. She recommended books on tape be provided for both textbooks and “trade books.” She recommended Student be provided with an Alpha Smart and access to a word processor. She recommended Student receive instruction in keyboarding. She again recommended Student use a software program which will read back her written work and allow her to hear her mistakes. She recommended a specialized spelling program. She made similar recommendations to her previous recommendations in the area of math and reported Student might need individual math tutoring to address gaps in her skills. (S-15, P-7) Ms. Grant testified that she had never observed Parents’ proposed placement, the Center for Optimum Learning, and her only knowledge of the school is from what Mother told her. (Grant)
19. Georgetown sent the parents a Meeting Invitation on October 4, 2001 for an October 12, 2001 Team meeting. The Team convened on October 12, 2001 to review Susan Grant’s and Dr. Kemper’s evaluation results. (S-18, Mother) Lyn O’Neal, the Special Education Building Coordinator, testified that a number of Ms. Grant’s and Dr. Kemper’s recommendations had previously been included in Student’s IEP. (O’Neal) Ms. Kowalski reported that Student was doing well and was in book five of Wilson. Student had been in book one the past March. Ms. Stead reported that she bases the concepts she teaches Student on the regular education curriculum, but presents it differently. She uses hands-on activities and integrates speech and language services. (S-18) Ms. Grant testified that she attended the October 12, 2001 Team meeting and participated in the discussion of her recommendations. She recalled discussion about Dr. Kemper providing Fast Forward instruction over the summer due to its intensity. The Team talked about getting Student a Franklin speller and there was no dispute about providing some books on tape. Georgetown owned Dragon Naturally Speaking. A weekly social skills group was suggested if Student wanted to participate. Mrs. Hudson, the math teacher stated that she used components of the Landmark math program within her curriculum. Ms. Grant believed Georgetown would be implementing as many of her recommendations as they could. The Team discussed Ms. Stead’s training in the LIPS program and figuring out how that could be provided based upon Student’s schedule. (Grant)
20. Georgetown issued an IEP on or about November 1, 2001. There were some modifications added, including “check in with School Adjustment Counselor” and “use of Franklin Speller.” In the Schedule Modification section, a longer day was indicated in order for Student to participate in the LIPS reading program twice per week after school for the remainder of the school year. Summer services continued to be offered. The Direct Services offered were the same as offered in the previous IEP. (P-8, S-17)
21. Mother testified that she received the IEP shortly after November 1, 2001. She was not satisfied with it because she believed it did not incorporate the most recent evaluations of Dr. Kemper and Susan Grant or all of the recommendations agreed to during the October 12, 2001 Team. Mother testified that she rejected the IEP on December 27, 2001. In the Response Section of the IEP, Mother did not check any of the options. She did check the line requesting a meeting to discuss the rejected IEP or portions. She also wrote, “I reject the IEP, but pending final determination I accept services and placement, though they remain inadequate.” (P-8, S-17, Mother)
22. Ms. Hudson issued a special education progress report on November 18, 2001. She indicated that Student was making progress in most areas. She reported that Student does very well with factual information, but required structure and support to make inferences and understand abstract information. She reported that Student was progressing nicely with her knowledge and vocabulary in the content areas and they were still working on her understanding and use of more general/conversational vocabulary. (S-16)
23. On December 17, 2001, Mother sent a letter to Ms. Kowalski requesting a copy of a list of Student’s commonly misspelled words. (S-14) On December 21, 2001, Ms. Kowalski responded via letter and indicated that the Wilson program deals with decoding, but often deals with nonsense words and does not cover a “regular spelling program.” She stated that she could not therefore provide the requested information and suggested that Mother contact either Ms. Hudson or Ms. Stead. (P-10, S-10)
24. On December 17, 2001, Mother sent a letter to Ms. White-Lambright requesting that Georgetown send referral packets to Landmark, Carroll and Learning Prep Schools. (S-13) On the same day, she sent another letter to Ms. White Lambright, outlining her concerns about Student’s program. (P-9, S-12) On December 21, 2001, Ms. White-Lambright responded to Mother’s letter. She stated that she had consulted with Dr. Kemper who would observe Student’s program on January 11 and provide feedback to Student’s service providers. She informed Mother that they would use both formal assessment and portfolio assessment to monitor Student’s progress. She informed Mother that Dr. Kemper told her that the LIPS program could be provided in place of or in conjunction with Wilson. Finally, she stated that Georgetown did not agree that Student required an outside placement. (P-11, S-11)
25. On December 28, 2001, Parents’ attorney sent a letter to Ms. White-Lambright requesting a meeting to discuss an outside placement for Student and informing her that Parents had requested a BSEA hearing. (P-12, S-9)
26. On January 4, 2002, Georgetown sent Parents an invitation to attend a January 23, 2002 Team meeting to discuss the rejected IEP. (S-8)
27. Dr. Kemper observed Student in her placement on January 11, 2002. (Kemper, O’Neal) Ms. O’Neal testified that Student was absent from Monday to Thursday during the week that Dr. Kemper was scheduled to observe her. She tried to contact Dr. Kemper to reschedule his observation, but was unsuccessful. When he arrived on Friday, January 11, she explained that the day would be a review day because Student had been absent all week. Dr. Kemper did not seek a further observation of Student’s program. (O’Neal)
28. Dr. Kemper testified that he observed Student’s program for approximately three hours. He observed Ms. Stead’s classes and “did not find anything particularly inappropriate.” He testified that he was “more or less pleased” with what he saw and made some suggestions to Ms. Stead “in terms of refining what she was doing.” He further testified that he observed the science class and found that it was much more hands on. He stated that there was seat work being completed by students. He stated that he did not see the same kind of language instruction as he saw in Ms. Stead’s class, but indicated that he was only there on one day and there may be more language on other days. He also stated that he may not expect Ms. Hudson to present language in the same way as a speech language pathologist. (Kemper)
29. The Team reconvened on January 23, 2002. At that time, Parents’ attorney stated that they were seeking an out-of-district placement and Ms. White-Lambright indicated that Georgetown was not recommending that. Lyn O’Neal indicated that Georgetown had discussed with Dr. Kemper the provision of LIPS three times per week for a total of four hours and would add a writing component twice per week with Ms. Hudson. They would not remove Student from her specials and would not schedule sessions after school. Ms. White-Lambright stated that Dr. Kemper told her he saw value in adding the LIPS program and stopping Wilson. The parents’ attorney informed the Team that the “COOL School” was the placement they sought. Georgetown’s attorney requested permission to have Team members call Susan Grant directly to consult and Parents’ attorney objected and requested that questions be written and provided to her and she would call Susan Grant. (Hudson, Stead) Georgetown again offered to provide after school LIPS tutoring, but Mother refused because she thought student should have a normal school day because of Student’s self-esteem issues. Ms. O’Neal testified that the Parents did not want to change Student’s schedule or services at that time. They only wanted an out-of-district program and did not want to talk about anything else. (O’Neal) Dr. Kemper testified that he recommended that Student receive the Fast Forward program in the summer. He also testified that Wilson and LIPS could be provided concurrently by providing 45 minutes of Wilson and 15 minutes of LIPS in a session. (Kemper) Georgetown requested consent to administer the LAC to Student as requested by Mother and Mother provided written consent. (S-3, S-2) Ms. Stead testified that Parents requested that she administer the LAC after the January Team meeting. She was concerned about using the LAC because Student’s visual/spatial skills are weak and the test requires students to use visual/spatial skills. She requested permission to administer an informal test, the Rosner, and Parents refused.
30. Ms. Stead administered the Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test (LAC) to Student on January 28, 2002 and wrote a report of her conclusions. She reported that the test required Student to physically manipulate colored blocks and concluded that due to Student’s “positive history of visual spatial difficulties, it is important to note that this particular test may not be the most appropriate measure of [Student]’s phonological processing skills.” Ms. Stead concluded that the test results reenforce the findings pertaining to phonological deficits determined by previous outside testing. (S-2)
31. Elizabeth Hudson testified that she is a certified special needs teacher, has been an educator for eighteen years, and taught in Georgetown for four years. She teaches Student’s language-based science and math classes six times per cycle. She testified that there are three students including Student in her science class, all of the students have language-based disabilities and are in the low average to average cognition range. She testified that she uses a multi-sensory language-based approach in her classroom. Her curriculum follows the Massachusetts Frameworks and she has integrated her curriculum with the regular education biology. She previews vocabulary with the students, models note taking on the board and checks students’ notes for accuracy. She double checks to make sure students understand concepts. She described the hands-on approach she uses in the classroom which included a unit on the spine. She pre-taught vocabulary, used a skeleton model to describe what they were reading, made clay bones in class and invited a chiropractor to speak to the class. There was a formal test at the end of the unit. She used Power Point to assist the students in learning the many Latin terms involved in the unit and used the internet to find pictures to assist the students’ understanding. She also described a unit on the respiratory system which culminated in the students being certified in Red Cross CPR. She described a unit on the scientific method in which she helped the students to form a hypothesis and prove or disprove it.9
Ms. Hudson testified that Student loves science and was enthusiastic in class. She worked hard and asked questions. She participated and helped other students. She did demonstrate organization problems with written language. Ms. Hudson worked on two major papers during the year. One was a research paper and the other used Power Point, which Student liked. Student wrote her research paper on the brain, learning disabilities, and dyslexia. Ms. Hudson read her complex text on the subect and helped her to break down difficult vocabulary. She taught her to use note cards to put together the paragraphs. She read Student’s work back to her to ensure it was in the correct order and used an editing checklist with her.
Ms. Hudson testified that she taught Student’s math class as well. Initially, there were three other male students in Student’s class, but they were progressing at a different pace than Student and Ms. Hudson transferred the other students to another class and worked one to one with Student. There are seven other students in the classroom for directed study during Student’s math and two aides are present. She stated that Student has difficulty with calculating and uses a calculator to re-check her work. Using the calculator is important for Student due to her visual/spatial difficulties. Ms. Hudson testified that Student still is not “solid” in her multiplication facts. She testified that she uses portions of the Landmark method curriculum and uses manipulatives to assist Student. She also said that Student has difficulty with multi-step problems and requires strong visual cues. She and Student made a cue chart together. Use of graph paper has also aided Student. She testified that it is difficult to evaluative Student’s calculation skills because she is not able to re-check with a calculator on a standardized test.
Ms. Hudson testified that she uses hands-on learning in math class. She had a pizza party, in which students cut the pizza into fractions to assist in teaching the concept of fractions. Student seemed to understand the concept. She testified that there are graphic organizers and templates all over her room. Students can choose which to use and her goal is for students to be able to make their own. She uses the spiraling technique to reinforce what was previously learned and ensure comprehension before adding additional concepts. She testified that she used Ms. Grant’s and Dr. Kemper’s recommendations and had already been incorporating many of them. She reviewed the recommendations for multi-sensory instruction and testified that she uses all of them.
32. Ms. Hudson testified that she was absent an unusually high number of times (19) because her husband was gravely ill. She was only absent during life-threatening emergencies and even while she was at the hospital with her husband, she worked on lesson plans and was in close contact with the classroom aide. The aide could call her at the hospital whenever she was needed and Ms. Hudson left the hospital for parts of several days to go to the classroom. There was a substitute teacher hired and her aide remained in the classroom. Even after being in the emergency room for 24 hours, she went to the classroom when the aide asked for her. (Hudson)
33. Heather Stead testified that she teaches in the language-based program and is Student’s geography and language arts teacher. She also consults with other special education staff regarding language-based needs. She is a licensed and certified speech language pathologist and has her provisional teacher certificate. She described Student has having a moderate language-based learning disability with dyslexia and a low average cognitive profile. She finds Student to be a very motivated learner who accepts and asks for help. She testified that Student has good social skills.
She testified that there are four students, including Student, in her Geography class. The other students have language-based learning disabilities and cognitive abilities in the average to low average range which, she testified, was an ideal grouping for Student. She explained that the language-based classroom is different from a regular education classroom because the students do not have the basic skills to learn language. Regular education teachers do not teach the skills needed to access the curriculum as she does. She directly teaches expressive and receptive skills to access the curriculum and includes receptive and expressive therapy in the curriculum. She uses a multi-sensory approach and uses the visualizing and verbalizing program. She does hands on projects and uses a variety of texts and the internet. She follows the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for geography and language arts. For Geography, the students primarily use a text written at the fourth grade reading level with grade appropriate content and Ms. Stead supplements the text with portions of the seventh grade geography book. The students use the computer for map reading skills and for visuals. Ms. Stead testified that in September Student had difficulty with receptive and expressive skills and higher order thinking. She has been taught to use outlines to structure her learning and can use tools to access language. She testified that Student is very motivated to participate and read orally and is often the first person to respond in class.
Student’s language arts class consists of five students10 . The students have similar disabilities and are compatible as a group. Ms. Stead uses novels, modified materials from the regular education class, poetry, short stories, and the visualizing and verbalizing program. She testified that she provided Student with three books on tape of novels during the year. Other materials were read aloud several times in class. Ms. Stead testified that she teaches expressive/receptive skills needed to understand the curriculum information and express, understand, clarify and interact with one another. She described how she starts by introducing a general concept and building on the knowledge of the concept before introducing the concept as it relates to the subject area. She does not use Write Out Loud or Naturally Speaking. She reads Student’s work aloud to her because she believes the computer generated speech lacks affect and intonation which make it difficult for students to pick up on meaning. She reads Student’s work back to her with intonation so she can hear what it sounds like. She does not use cue cards for editing, but co-edits with Student and verbally provides her with the steps.
Ms. Stead testified that she agrees with Ms. Grant’s recommendations and implements them. She is also familiar with Dr. Kemper’s recommendations and explained how she implements them in both classes. She explained how students explain concepts back to her using oral language. She uses high interest/low level reading materials to allow Student to use Wilson strategies. She uses brainstorming, webbing, mappping, and students verbally describe their brainstorming before writing. Any written assignments are connected with oral expression. If students wish to provide an oral answer to a written test question they may. Student is able to use a word processing program during class. She uses physical manipulatives when appropriate. She modifies language input and provides frequent repetition and paraphrasing. She pauses frequently to allow Student ample time to describe what she is thinking to accommodate Student’s word finding difficulty. Student may respond by drawing a picture and adding oral language if necessary. She uses spiraling consistently.
She described Student’s progress as “very nice” and stated that she is able to access different strategies and grasp concepts and explain her knowledge after being given a format for completing the task. She stated that Student is very participatory and consistently volunteered to read orally. (Stead)
34. Barbara Kowalski testified that she is certified to provide Wilson tutoring and provides Student’s daily Wilson tutorial. She has been a special education tutor at Georgetown since 1993. She explained that the Wilson Reading program teaches whole word construction as opposed to a phonics-based approach. She explained a typical session as follows. She works with Student and another student with a language-based disability. She thinks the 2:1 ratio works well for Student because the students cue each other and listen to each other read. She uses sound cards which contain a consonant or vowel and students identify the sound. She introduces a new concept or reviews, and the students may do some spelling on the board which relates to that day’s concept. She keeps a running chart of their progress. They proceed to dictation and the students write the sounds she reads, which may include nonsense words. The students then write sentences on the board. There is a reading component which may run from one paragraph to two pages. If there is new vocabulary, they review it before reading. The students silently read and Ms. Kowalski checks for comprehension and then they each read out loud. She keeps a running record. She explained that Wilson is a 12 book program and Student is in book 9, substep 6. Each substep introduces a concept. Before a student moves from one book to the next he or she must demonstrate mastery of the concepts in the book through post-testing. Student completed book 1-2 during the sixth grade, worked on book 3 during the summer before seventh grade, and completed book 3 through 9.6 as of the beginning of June of the seventh grade. She stated that the program is designed to be completed in two to three years. Ms. Kowalski testified that Student receives instruction in spelling as part of the Wilson program starting in the first book. She testified that she meets informally with Ms. Stead 2-3 times a week and has done so since she started teaching Student. (Kowalski)
35. Student testified that when she was in sixth grade she often asked her friends for help during class if she did not understand something in her text book. She testified that she began receiving Wilson instruction in March of the sixth grade and continued into the summer. She started in book 1 and is now in book 9. She believes that the Wilson tutoring has helped, but she still thinks she cannot read at the same level as her friends. She still struggles with understanding math. She stated that if a teacher uses a word that she does not understand she asks the teacher or a classmate what it means. She stated that she used to lie to her friends about being in special education classes because she did not want to feel different and she was afraid that others would not want to be her friend if they thought she was different. She stopped lying to them about three months prior to the hearing. She testified that she wanted to attend the COOL School because she thinks they can teach her better and because she has heard her Parents want her to go there and has heard that Georgetown has not followed all of Ms. Grant’s and Dr. Kemper’s recommendations. She testified that she is not willing to stay after school to do extra work because she does not think it is fair. (Student)
36. On May 10, 2002, Ms. White-Lambright sent a letter to Parents reiterating Georgetown’s suggestions for changes to Student’s IEP previously offered and rejected. The options were as follows: 1) change Student’s period A to the LIPS program four times per cycle; 2) keep the Wilson program A period and have after school tutoring three times per week in the LIPS program; 3) make the LIPS change and utilize after school tutoring for additional math tutorial; 4) As to the summer program- Georgetown sent Dr. Kemper a commitment letter in January regarding the Fast Forward program, the Team can discuss whether Student requires any additional summer services. Ms. White-Lambright stated that Georgetown remained willing to implement any of the above options and would discuss them further at the upcoming Team meeting. (S-1)
37. Carol Cook testified that she is the Director and a teacher at the Center for Optimum Learning (hereafter, “COOL”). She is certified in elementary, general special education, and learning and language disabilities by the state of New Hampshire. She testified that the students at COOL have language learning disabilities and average I.Q.s and require a substantially separate language-based education. She stated that many of the students are functioning below grade level and have difficulty with expressive and receptive language. She explained that the entire day is language-based. According to Ms. Cook, COOL is not approved by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a special education school, but is approved by the state of New Hampshire. She testified that the curriculum is based upon the New Hampshire curriculum frameworks and the grade level of the instruction depends upon the knowledge of the students in the class. (Cook)
She stated that Student had been accepted for enrollment and if she had attended during the 2001-2002 school year she would have been in a class with eight students between the ages of twelve and fourteen. There is one other class in the school with three students who Ms. Cook described as having more complicated language profiles and requiring a more intense program. Student would have attended academic classes from 8:15 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. and may attend a structured study until 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and attended specials and “field study” on Fridays. Ms. Cook testified that most of the students in the class in which Student was accepted received individual tutoring in phonology by a Masters level tutor. Student would have received math instruction individually or in a small group. (Cook) Dr. Kemper testified that he has never been to the COOL school, but knows the director and saw her teach years ago and has seen her curriculum.
Findings and Conclusions :
Student is an individual with a disability, falling within the purview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)11 and the state special education statute.12 As such, she is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Neither her status nor her entitlement is in dispute. The dispute involves the adequacy and effectiveness of the services provided to Student and whether she is entitled to compensatory services for the 2001-2002 school year.
Georgetown is required to provide Student with a free appropriate public education that meets state educational standards. MGL c. 71 B § 1, 2, 3; See also 603 CMR 28.01 & 28.02 (21) Additionally, the federal law requires that the student have access to full participation in the general curriculum, to the maximum extent possible. Also, the student’s education must be offered in the least restrictive environment appropriate to meet his/her individual needs13 . 20 USC §1414(d)(1)(A)(iii); 34 CFR 300.347(a)(2)(i) and (a)(3)(ii); 64 Fed. Reg. No. 48, page 12595, column 1; MGL c. 71B § 1; 603 CMR 28.02 (12). See In re: Worcester Public Schools , BSEA # 00-0912, 6 MSER 194 (SEA MA 2000) and In re: Gill-Montague Public Schools District , BSEA # 02-1776, August 28, 2002.
As previously discussed in In re: Gill- Montague , “the Massachusetts statute defines FAPE as special education and related services as consistent with the provisions set forth in 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. [the IDEA], its accompanying regulations, and which meet the education standards established by statute or established by regulations promulgated by the board of education”14 , including the Massachusetts state curriculum frameworks.15
As stated by the federal courts, the LEA is responsible for offering students meaningful access to an education through an IEP that provides “significant learning” and confers “meaningful benefit” to the student16 , through “personalized instruction with sufficient support services …”17 . The requirements of the law assure the student access to a public education rather than an education that maximizes the student’s individual potential. Lenn v. Portland School Committee , 998 F.2d 1083 (1 st Cir. 1993); GD v. Westmoreland School District , 930 F.2d 942 (1 st Cir. 1991).
Similarly, the Massachusetts special education statute defines “special education” to mean “educational programs and assignments . . . designed to develop the educational potential of children with disabilities . . .” which permit a student to make meaningful educational progress.18 MGL c. 71B § 1, the special education statute in Massachusetts, requires that eligible students receive special education services designed to develop the student’s individual educational potential”19 consistent with the interpretation provided by other courts. Additionally, a FAPE must offer Student an opportunity for meaningful educational progress or benefit in accordance with the federal standards embodied in the IDEA.20
Based on the requirements delineated above, I find that the IEP provided by Georgetown for the 2001-2002 school year was reasonably calculated to provide Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. I further find that Student made progress and received meaningful educational benefit from the services provided.
Student’s program was provided using the language-based, multi-sensory approach recommended by the outside evaluators even before the Team received the outside evaluators’ reports recommending such an approach. (S-26, S-25) Student received language arts and geography instruction from Ms. Stead, a certified speech and language pathologist. Ms. Stead testified that she always incorporated the services recommended by Dr. Kemper in her classroom. (Stead) Dr. Kemper, Parents’ expert witness, testified that a speech and language pathologist has the appropriate credentials to teach a language-based program and he “did not find anything particularly inappropriate” in the classes he observed. He further testified to being “more or less pleased” with what he observed. (Kemper) Ms. Stead described Student’s progress as “very nice” and reported Student is able to use the strategies she has been taught for grasping concepts, explaining her knowledge, and completing tasks within a format. She also testified to providing consultation with other staff members regarding language-based teaching. (Stead)
Although Dr. Kemper testified that he did not observe the same kind of language-based teaching in Ms. Hudson’s science and math classes, I am not persuaded that Ms. Hudson did not provide said language-based instruction. Ms. O’Neal testified that Student had been out of school for the four days preceding Dr. Kemper’s observation and the day was being used as a review for Student. Dr. Kemper testified that he only observed one science class and conceded that more language may have been presented on other days. I found Ms. Hudson’s testimony compelling and credible. Her enthusiasm and dedication were evident from her testimony. She expressed a clear understanding of Student’s language needs and explained in detail the manner in which she meets Student’s needs. Her description of lessons she taught regarding the scientific method, the spine, and the respiratory systemwere most impressive. She described the many ways in which she allows Student to use language to express herself including orally, in a written format, and visually through the use of drawings or Power Point presentations. She did not neglect Student’s need to practice written language, as evidenced by her description of working with Student to write a research paper. She explained how she makes different kinds of graphic organizers available so that Student can have access to those which assist her the most. She described breaking down vocabulary and assisting Student with mastering relevant vocabulary before introducing new concepts. Ms. Hudson also demonstrated a clear understanding of Student’s needs in math. She appropriately began providing Student with one on one instruction when it became apparent that the other students in her class were progressing at a different pace. She testified to using manipulatives and hands-on activities to make math relevant to Student, including the pizza party to explain the concept of fractions. Although Ms. Hudson’s husband was gravely ill and in the hospital, she remained dedicated to providing Student with appropriate services as evidenced by her testimony of being in constant contact with her classroom aide from the emergency room, and of leaving the hospital to assist in the classroom when necessary. Ms. Hudson clearly understands language-based teaching and provided it to Student. She found Student to be especially enthusiastic in science class. (Hudson)
Student made demonstrable progress in the Wilson reading program, advancing from book three to book nine, substep six, in the course of approximately one academic year. Ms. Kowalski was pleased with the progress Student made and found that she benefited from receiving her tutorial with one other student because the students cued one another and were able to listen to each other read. Ms. Stead testified to seeing Student utilize strategies learned in Wilson during her classes with Student. (Kowalski) I am convinced that Student made progress in her Wilson tutorial.
Ms. Grant’s December re-testing of Student showed Student had made significant academic progress during the first three months of school. Student’s standardized test scores (as reported on page 11 of the Findings of Fact) show that Student made progress of between six and fifteen months in most areas over the course of four months. (S-15, P-7) Although she did not show an increase in her Numerical Operations score, her Mathematics Reasoning Score increased by six months. Ms. Hudson testified that Student’s disabilities impact her ability to perform mathematic operations skills and she allows Student to use a calculator. Standardized tests do not permit the use of a calculator. (Hudson) Ms. Hudson testified that Student had made progress in mathematics, and Student’s mathematics reasoning score increased. This leads me to believe that Student did make progress in math despite her numerical operations score.
Ms. Grant also noted that Student’s self-esteem had improved between September and December. (Grant)
It is important to note that although Ms. Grant and Dr. Kemper (both of whom testified for the parents) made recommendations for Student’s program, neither testified that the services being provided to Student were inappropriate. Neither witness recommended that Student be placed at COOL school nor was either witness even familiar with the COOL school program. Both witnesses had positive things to say about the Georgetown program. Dr. Kemper stated that he saw nothing inappropriate about the program and was “generally pleased” with what he saw. Ms. Grant’s report of her observation of the Georgetown program noted that “language therapy is integrated into the classes.” She found that Student responded well to wait time, cueing and encouragement from Ms. Stead. She noted that Student was attentive, actively engaged, and frequently raised her hand during class discussion. Ms. Grant also noted that Ms. Stead reviewed what Student missed while at the bathroom and previewed material. She noted Ms. Hudson reviewed all of the steps after students completed their scientific experiment. (S-21, P-6) By Ms. Grant’s own classroom observations, Ms. Hudson and Ms. Stead were providing Student with appropriate services which met her own recommendations. Ms. Grant did not testify that Georgetown was not providing appropriate services.
Georgetown was responsive to the Parents’ concerns and the recommendations of the outside evaluators. Georgetown went so far as to agree to consult with Dr. Kemper21 and Ms. Grant. (S-17, P-8) Parents’ counsel would not allow Georgetown staff to communicate with Dr. Kemper or Ms. Grant directly or verbally which made their consultation inaccessible. (Stead, Hudson) Parents claim that Georgetown was unwilling or unable to provide all of the services recommended by Dr. Kemper and Ms. Grant. The evidence shows that the Team determined that Student required a longer school day in order to receive all of the necessary services and provide the maximum opportunity for her to participate in the mainstream. The reason for the recommended schedule modification was that “[Student] will participate in the LIPS reading program twice a week after school for the remainder of the school year 01-02”. (S-17, P-8) Mother testified that although she did not disagree that Student should participate in specials with her regular education peers, she did not think it was fair that Student would be required to remain after school and do extra work when the other students were not required to stay. I find it appropriate for Georgetown to offer to provide services after school in this case because this was a service which the Team agreed Student required and there was no time during the regular school day during which Student was available to receive the service. If Student had received LIPS instruction during one of her specials, she would have been deprived of the opportunity of participating in classes with regular education peers. Because the Team found that Student would benefit from the LIPS program and she did not have any available time during the regular school day, it appropriately offered the services to Student after school. The Parents and Student did not believe it was “fair” for Student to be required to stay after school to receive services. However, as described above, Student did not have any available time during the school day to receive the services. The services were made available, and Georgetown fulfilled its obligation to Student.
I do not find any merit to Parents’ argument that Student’s program was inappropriate because she was the only girl in her small-group academic classes. Student did not testify to being adversely impacted by being taught with only boys. She simply stated that it was “weird” being the only girl. She testified that she got along well with her classmates. There was no evidence of difficulty with self-esteem. She testified that although she had previously lied to her friends about going to special education classes she had eventually told them. Georgetown staff testified that Student was well-liked and had many friends. (Stead, Hudson) When she testified, I observed her to be well-spoken and able to provide articulate responses to questions asked of her. She was poised and animated at times, especially while discussing science lesson dealing with eggs. She was able to remember Newton’s Law which she had learned about in Georgetown during the previous school year. (Student)
I find that Georgetown provided Student with services which met her individual needs, provided her access to the general curriculum and allowed her to make educational and emotional progress.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals has long recognized the right of a student to receive compensatory education as a form of relief to remedy previous deprivations due to a deficient IEP. Pihl v. Massachusesetts Department of Education , 9 F. 3d 184 (1 st Cir. 1993). I have determined that Student received a free and appropriate public education. Therefore, I find no basis for awarding compensatory services.
Since I have determined that Georgetown provided Student with a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment, it is not necessary to make any findings regarding whether the COOL School would have provided Student with a free and appropriate public education.
Georgetown provided Student with a free and appropriate public education during the 2001-2002 school year. Student is not entitled to receive any compensatory educational services.
By the Hearing Officer,
Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn
Dated: December 12, 2002
There was no live testimony on June 6, but Ms. Cook continued her telephone testimony via telephone conference call.
Ms. Baker administered the following: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC III); Bender Visual Perceptual Motor Gestalt Test; Jordan Left Right Reversal Test; Wepman Augidtory Discrimination; Student Interview Test; Draw a Person (DAP); Kinetic School Drawing (KSD); Kinetic Family Drwing (KFD); Finish the Sentence Game; Guess Why Game; Teacher’s Observation Form; Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-III)
Tiliakos administered the following tests: Differential Ability Scales, Boston Naming Test, Children’s Memory Scale, California Verbal Learning Test-Children’s Version, WISC III sub-tests, Trail Making Test, Rey-Osterrieth, Wisconsin, Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, ADHD Checklist, Achenbach, Gray Oral-3, Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests, Woodcock-Johnson (Word Attack) and Wechsler Individual Achievement Test and Test of Written Language-3.
Ms. Howland administered all or portions of the following tests: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III, Boston Naming Test, Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-3, Test of Language Development-Intermediate (3), Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language, Test of Language Competence- Level 2, The Word Test-R, The Listening Test. (See P-3)
Dr. Kemper administered the following tests: Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-III) Form B, The Expressive Vocabulary Test (EVT), Oral and Written Language Scales (OWLS) Listening Comprehension and Oral Expression Scales, Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE), Slosson Oral Reading Test (SORT-R), Gray Oral Reading Tests-3 (GORT-3), Test of Reading Comprehension (TORC), Test of Written Language (TOWL-3), Test of Written Spelling (TWS-4), Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP).
The record is unclear as to whether she administered the tests in their entirety or portions thereof.
Ms. Grant’s report is unclear as to which instrument she used to assess each area.
She called the experiment the Coke/Pepsi challenge and the students determined the procedure they would use. The students invited regular education students to participate in their experiment and graphed their results on a bar graph to show empirical data.
Four of the students are the students in Student’s geography class.
20 USC 1400 et seq .
MGL c. 71B.
20 USC 1412(5)(A); 603 CMR 28.02(12)
MGL c. 71B, §1.
See the Mass. Department of Education’s Administrative Advisory SPED 2002-1: Guidance on the change in special education standard of service from “maximum possible development” to “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”), Effective January 1, 2002 (hereafter Mass . FAPE Advisory ), 7 MSER Quarterly Reports 1 (2001).
For a discussion of FAPE see Hendrick Hudson Bd. Of Education v. Rowley , 458 U.S. 176, 188-189 (1992); Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret F., 526 U.S. 66 (1999); Burlington v. Department of Educatio n , 736 F. 2d 773 (1 st Cir. 1984). Houston Independent School District v. Bobby R ., 200 F.3d 341 (5 th Cir. 2000); Stockton by Stockton v. Barbour County Bd. of Educ., 25 IDELR 1076 (4 th Cir. 1997); MC v. Central Regional School District , 81 F.3d 389 (3 rd Cir. 1996), cert. denied 519 US 866 (1966); Ridgewood Board of Education v. NE , 30 IDELR 41 (3 rd Cir. 1999). See also GD v. Westmoreland School District , 930 F.3d 942 (1 st Cir. 1991).
Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 203, 102 S.Ct. 3034, 3049 (1982).
The Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) stated that the “FAPE standard . . . requires the school district to provide personalized instruction tailored to the student’s needs, with sufficient support services to permit the student to make meaningful educational progress .” Mass. FAPE Advisory (see footnote 8 above for full title and citation of Advisory) (emphasis supplied).
603 CMR 28.01(3). The Massachusetts Department of Education has also noted that the Massachusetts Education Reform Act “underscores the Commonwealth’s commitment to assist all students to reach their full educational potential.” Mass. FAPE Advisory (see footnote 8 above for full title and citation of the Advisory). M.G.L. c. 69, §1 states in part that a paramount goal of the commonwealth is “to provide a public education system of sufficient quality to extend to all children the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Weixel v. Board of Education of the City of New York , 287 F.3d 138 (2 nd Cir. 2002 ); Houston Independent School District v. Bobby R. , 200 F.3d 341 (5 th Cir. 2000); Ridgewood Board of Education v. NE for ME , 172 F.3d 238 (3 rd Cir. 1999); Walczak v. Florida Union Free School District , 142 F.3d 119 (2 nd Cir. 1998); Stockton by Stockton v. Barbour County Bd. of Educ., 25 IDELR 1076 (4 th Cir. 1997); MC v. Central Regional School District , 81 F.3d 389 (3 rd Cir. 1996), cert. denied 519 US 866 (1996). These cases are consistent with the IDEA requirement that the IEP confer meaningful benefit for the student and provide significant learning.
Georgetown also agreed to contract with Dr. Kemper for the provision of the Fast Forward program to Student during the summer of 2002. (Kemper, White-Lambright)