Auburn Public Schools – BSEA #02-0983
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
Bureau of Special Education Appeals
In Re: Auburn Public Schools
Ruling on Joinder Motion
This matter comes before the Bureau on the Student’s Motion to Join the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission in this special education appeal. The Auburn Public Schools did not oppose Joinder. Both the Department of Mental Retardation (hereinafter “DMR”) and the Rehabilitation Commission (hereinafter “MRC”) submitted written Oppositions to the Student’s Joinder request. A pre-hearing conference was held on May 15, 2002, at which the Parties and the state agencies sought to be joined, presented oral arguments in support of or opposition to Joinder. The pertinent facts are not in dispute and are set out briefly below:
1. The Student is 17 years old. She attends a self-contained life skills program at Auburn High School. The Student’s last accepted IEP covered the 1999-2000 school year when the Student attended middle school. Most recently the Parent rejected an IEP proposed in October, 2001, which would have covered the time period October, 2001, through October, 2002.
2. The Student receives family support services through the Department of Mental Retardation. She has not yet been determined by the DMR to be generally eligible for adult services.
3. The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission has determined that the Student is eligible for its services. It has assigned a caseworker who currently provides vocational support and supervision to the Student at Auburn High School.
The Student argues that the IEPs proposed by Auburn since 1999 have failed to implement the consistent recommendations of evaluators and, as a result, the Student has experienced significant regression in skills. Through the special education appeals process the Student seeks: 1.) compensatory services; 2.) inclusion of recommended services in the Auburn High School program or, if that is not possible; 3.) an alternate day or residential educational placement that can appropriately address the Student’s needs as outlined in the evaluations.
The procedural rules of the Bureau of Special Education allow for Joinder of a person (or entity) to a special education appeal when complete relief cannot be afforded to the moving party in that person’s absence. BSEA Rule 1F. See also : M.G.L. c. 71B § 3; 603 CMR 28.08(3). After careful consideration of the participant’s thoughtful arguments it is my conclusion that the relief requested by the Student can be granted in the absence of both DMR and MRC, and therefore that involuntary joinder of these entities is not appropriate at this time.
The Student’s hearing request seeks a determination as to whether the Auburn Public Schools has failed to provide FAPE by developing and implementing IEPs that do not fully reflect the recommendation of evaluators. A hearing on this issue will focus on the educational recommendations of the evaluators and Auburn’s procedural and substantive responses thereto. Neither the factual inquiry nor the decision in this matter need involve a party other than Auburn Public Schools. Should it be found that FAPE was not available to the Student the Parent seeks compensatory educational services and/or an alternative educational placement. This type of relief is typically the responsibility of the school district. A showing of unique circumstances that might warrant the participation of another responsible state agency in crafting a compensatory service plan for the Student may be reserved to a later stage of these proceedings without undue inconvenience to either Party or to potential Parties.
Therefore, the Student’s Motion to Join the DMR and the MRC is DENIED .
By the Hearing Officer,
Lindsay Byrne, Hearing Officer