Berkshire Hills Regional School District – BSEA #99-3350

<br /> Special Education Appeals BSEA #99-3350<br />

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

BUREAU OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS

In re: Berkshire Hills Regional School District BSEA #99-3350

DECISION

This hearing is rendered pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. ‘ 1400 et seq .; Chapter 766 of the Acts of 1972, M.G.L. c. 71B; Massachusetts Administrative Procedures, M.G.L. c. 30A; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 20 U.S.C. ‘ 794; and to the regulations promulgated pursuant to these statutes.

A hearing on the above-numbered case was held on May 7, 11, and 12, 1999 at Catuogno’s Reporting Services in Springfield and in Worcester, MA. At the request of the parties, the record remained open until June 9 th , 1999 for receipt of closing arguments.

Persons present for all or part of the proceedings were:

Mr. and Mrs. M. Parents of Student

Cara MacAvoy Attorney for Parents and Student

Patricia Silver Consultant to the Parents

Jonathan Aronoff Clinical Psychologist

Francis St. Peter Director of Special Education, BHRSD

Philip Grandchamp Attorney for BHRSD

Charlene Houghton School Psychologist, BHRSD

Kathleen Plungis Special Education Reading/Language Arts Teacher, BHRSD

Michael Vecchia School Psychologist, BHRSD

Jane Furey Principal, BHRSD

Don Scheyer Special Education Teacher, BHRSD

Raymond Shephardson Guidance Counselor, BHRSD

Mary Shook Alternative English Teacher, BHRSD

Sandra Sherwood BSEA Hearing Officer

ISSUE

Whether BHRSD failed to implement Student’s 1998 – 1999 IEP to such an extent that Student should be placed at the White Oak School, a Chapter 766 approved day school, for the 1999 – 2000 school year.

PARENTS’ POSITION

Parents reluctantly agreed to Student’s 1998 – 1999 sixth grade placement in Searle’s inclusion program, with the understanding that such would be a language based program, and that her social emotional needs would be addressed, that she would always have available a computer, and that she would be taught organizational/study skills. BHRSD has failed to implement the agreed upon IEP, and is either unwillingness or unable to implement such IEP. Further, Student continues to have serious social/emotional problems in this program. That she is learning to cope with these problems does not change the fact that the problems continue to exist. Accordingly, Student should be compensated for these failures by being placed at a private school such as the White Oak School for the 1999 – 2000 school year, where there is the assurance of a language based program geared to student’s academic and social/emotional needs. The White Oak School has accepted Student into its program; accordingly, BHRSD should now place Student there.

SCHOOL’S POSITION

Student’s learning profile is extremely complex, and the staff at BHRSD have taken great steps to individualize a program to address her needs, and have shown great flexible in correcting problems. They have substantially implemented the agreed upon IEP, and any perceived failures were not failures, but rather, the result of educational decision within the purview of the teachers. The program is language based, and Student has made good academic and social/emotional progress, and she appears to interact well with the regular education as well as special needs students. Accordingly, BHRSD owes no compensatory services. Further, BHRSD asserts that the White Oak School is inappropriate, for, a) given her difficulty making friends, it is better to keep her educational program within her community, and b) given Student’s complex needs, she will not be able to keep up with the White Oak School students.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

1. The issue before me is whether BHRSD complied with its 1998 – 1999 IEP, and if not, whether an outside placement is warranted. Thus, this IEP, its development, and its implementation, are central to this case. However, such must be within the larger context of Student’s educational needs.

2. Student is a twelve-year old sixth grader in BHRSD’s Searles Middle School in Great Barrington, MA. She is a highly motivated and persevering young student who has achieved academically, however, she has complex and extensive learning difficulties which interfere with her educational development. She was diagnosed as an infant with a chromosomal abnormality called mosaic trisomy 18, associated with multiple congenital anomalies and mild cerebral palsy. She has nonverbal learning disabilities, giving her difficulties with seeing the whole picture, with visual motor, visual perceptual, and spatial tasks, and with non-verbal reasoning. This affects her social abilities, for she lacks the flexibility of thought. She has ADHD. She has an executive functioning disorder, and language based learning disabilities with higher level language, compromising her intake and output of information. Her cognitive skills test in the high average – low average levels. Her academic skills lie generally in the second – third grade level. Her speech is somewhat garbled. Student is less mature than her peers and has younger interests. She enjoys horseback riding, softball, and basketball. (Parent, Vecchia, Plungis, Scheyer, P-4A, B,C,D, S-58)

3. Student has received special education services from BHRSD since she was three years old. Her 1997 – 1998 fifth grade IEP called for 502.2 prototype services at BHRSD’s Stockbridge Elementary School, and it became clear to all that she required more special education services, for she had a very difficult year academically as well as socially. Student felt people spoke too fast for her to understand the discussions, and she didn’t understand math and language arts. (Parent)

4. In March of that year, Dr. Bruno-Golden conducted an evaluation to better assess her needs. She summarized her findings, stating that Student tested in the average range of intellectual ability when tested with a non-verbal measure (ToniIII), within the average range of verbal intellectual ability (WISCIII), mildly impaired in the performance scale (WISCIII). Further, she is impaired in the areas of fine motor speed, constructional skill, visual perception and organization, non-verbal memory, word retrieval, and cognitive flexibility. Her academic skills were tested to be at the second to third grade level. Her ADHD is managed with Ritalin. In her recommendations, she stressed the need for bypass strategies in respect to her fine-motor difficulties, that is, scribing services for classroom notes, and computer use for writing composition, suggesting software programs such as Co-Writer, and keyboard training. “Student should be doing as much of her work as possible, from the first draft, while using a word processor with a spell checker. Obviously keyboard training and the availability of a computer will provide Student with an age appropriate independent classroom skill.” Further, Dr. Bruno-Golden recommended speech/language therapy for word retrieval problems and for written language expression. “Such should be tightly coordinated within the content of her subject areas and class assignments.” (P-4A) She also recommended the Orton-Gillingham Reading Program and Project Read language arts program, with extensive daily remedial tutoring. (P-4A, S-15)

5. In addition to this report, Barbara Eccher of BHRSD reported the Woodcock-Johnson Test scores. She summarized her findings, stating that Student performed average in reading comprehension and math reasoning; low average in basic reading, basic math, and basic writing; and low in written expression and broad knowledge. She found no significant intra-achievement discrepancies. (S-18)

6. Thereafter, the TEAM met several times through the fall of 1998, taking into consideration Dr. Bruno-Golden’s and Ms. Eccher’s evaluations. At first, Parent was told by Jane Furey that BHRSD has no language based program per se, as recommended by Dr. Bruno-Golden. She said they had some Project Read training and would take more training over the summer, but no one had Wilson training. (Parent) BHRSD developed several draft 1998 – 1999 IEP’s which the parents rejected, for they did not address Dr. Bruno-Golden’s recommendations. (Parent) Given the lack of an existing language-based program, Parents looked elsewhere, but were unsuccessful. (Parent)

7. On September 2, 1998, the parties participated in a BSEA mediation session to work our the differences, and they agreed to specific terms, which were to be embodied in an IEP.. This agreement called for the following daily services: 1) all academics in the resource room; 2) a period with a reading teacher on decoding and written expression, using Wilson and Project Read; 3) ½ period reading 1:1 with an aide supervised daily by the reading teacher, ½ period academic/study skills with the special education staff; ½ period organizational/study skill 1:1 with an aide supervised by the sped liaison teacher, and ½ period on computer work, social skills, peer relationship, etc.. Also, it called for Student’s assignment book to be checked daily by staff; an assignment log to be used for home-school communication; a computer to be available at all times; and finally, an aide to be available as needed. (P-2, S14)

8. Accordingly, BHRSD developed an amended IEP pursuant to this 9/2/98 mediated agreement, and in December, 1998, the Parents accepted this IEP amendment, and in doing so, they stated that they inferred that this IEP incorporates the components of the mediated agreement. This IEP calls for daily small group special education classes in English, math, social studies, and science, and reinforcement; daily 1:1 reading/language arts; speech/language therapy 30 minutes x 2 / week; and daily tutoring in spelling, reading, and daily written language; occupational therapy ongoing for 8 hours/ cycle; and social skills addressed by the special education staff ongoing, with no time allotted. Further, the IEP includes four objectives regarding social skills: greet peers with positive comments, ask conversational questions, discriminate between friendly teasing and unkind remarks, and respond to friendly teasing by smiling and laughing. The Student Performance Profile section describes Student as being a generally happy child, but as having no best friend at school. It states that Student needs a small classroom with emphasis on language based teaching approach. She needs drill and repetition. She will have a computer available at all times and will be encouraged to use it frequently and for all subjects. She will receive keyboard training and computer programs such as Write Story or Co-Writer. She will have Wilson and Project Read and organizational /study skills 1:1 daily. Finally, it states “daily oral language development services will continue to emphasize the treatment of word retrieval problems and also the development of written language expression skills. This will be tightly coordinated within the content of her subject areas. Previewing vocabulary and concepts in science and social studies is recommended. It is suggested that semantic mapping be used as a writing strategy to aid in her word retrieval difficulties and help in elaboration of thoughts.” (S-13, P-1)

9. After acceptance of this IEP, BHRSD was given two additional evaluation reports, but did not reconvene the TEAM until April 30, 1999. First, Dr. Vargo’s psycho-educational report was received by BHRSD on November 2, 1998. It called for modifications in class seating, homework assignments, testing, texts, and it detailed teaching techniques regarding the use of visuals, and math teaching techniques. It also called for a thematic teaching in academic subjects, teaching spelling in conjunction with reading instruction, and teaching of writing within the context of her subjects. It called for a staff person to be responsible for Student’s checking her homework assignments, materials needed, steps involved for completion, and finally, study skill instruction.(P-46, S-11). Second, Ms. Grizzell conducted a speech/language evaluation in January, 1999, and stated that Student should be thought of as language learning disabled, that she needed supports “within the curriculum to support her acquisition/production of information”. Further, she stated that the focus of her speech/language treatment should be upon the speech therapist’s collaboration/consultation/training of the teachers. Her recommendations include the use of thematic teaching to increase redundancy and familiarity with information, previewing, using semantic organizers, and exposing her to many types of reading. (P-4D)

10. This past year, her teachers assert that she has made good progress in that she shows much more initiative in her reading and writing. (Shook) Further, they believe that Student made great social/emotional gains. Whereas she cried frequently in the fifth grade, she appears happy and is relating to her peers, although she relates as a “satellite” child, being accepted by her peers, but not able to be a good friend with any. Although sixth graders have the capacity to be mean, BHRSD is unaware of any significant stigmatizing. She participated and very much enjoyed with her peers the Dance 50’s program, she was very involved in the Shakespeare program, and at lunch, she is seen sitting with a group of girls. (Furey, Schneyer, Plungis, Shook) According to the parents, Student has made gains in that she is learning to handle the difficult social situation, but she is suffering. She is receiving private weekly therapy services to address her social/emotional difficulties; she is extremely depressed and anxious, unhappy, feels not liked by her peers, feels she never can measure up, and is lonely. She has learned strategies for handling this unhappiness, so she can make it through the school days, but she is nevertheless, unhappy. Further, Student complained about the English and math classes. She was confused in math, and in English, the work was frequently babyish and too easy; i.e., she would color the water blue, color pumpkins, etc. (Mother, Aronoff)

11. Parents were tentatively hopeful that Student could be successfully educated within the public school, but after having witnessed this past year, they are convinced that BHRSD is unwilling or unable to implement the agreed upon IEP. They therefore believe Student must be placed outside of the public school as compensation for its failures. Parent bases her opinion on conversations with Student, the school log sheets, and by a look at her work. She sees little coordination in the curriculum, for Student may be reading four different books at a time. There appears to be a lot of jumping around rather than a coordinated, spiraling curriculum. Further, Student is not filling out her assignment book, which indicates the staff are not working on her organizational skills, as called for in the IEP. (Parent) She uses the computer infrequently, despite the IEP mandate. Parent sees little evidence of written work, despite the IEP mandate. The language emphasis is lacking: Student just colors in characters, cuts and pastes, etc.; she didn’t do any written lab reports, until May, despite the IEP, page 7, objective 3; and worksheets are used extensively in English. These are not language intensive experiences, as would be expected in a language-based program. Parent asserts that in math, she is not learning her multiplication tables. She is unable to do work the teacher said she had mastered. (P-15A) Finally, Parent asserts that the IEP calls for social/emotional goals not being addressed, for there is no 1:1 services. (See IEP page 26B, objective 1). Student has no friends at school and has been unable to get students to come to her house or to be invited to their houses. Parent also asserts that the staff ignored the IEP mandate when they substituted her reading program with the Dance 50’s program. (Parent)

12. Parents sought a review of BHRSD’s program by an educational consultant, Dr. Silver, and asked her to review the program in light of Student’s IEP and in light of the evaluation recommendations. (Silver) In April, 1999, Dr. Silver observed Student’s program.(P-5) She summarized her observations, noting that Student did not appear to be using the computer daily, as agreed in the IEP and mediated agreement, partly because Student was not doing much writing, and partly because she lacked the time to devote to computer work. Further, she noted that she observed no attempt to work with Student on her social skills, as called for in her IEP. In addition to these non-compliance observations, she commented on the lack of programming as recommended by the outside evaluations by Dr. Vargo and Ms. Grizzell. Specifically, she saw no evidence of thematic instruction, no evidence of work on reading fluency, and no evidence of work on the writing process. She concluded her observations, stating that Student’s strengths were not being recognized, and her academic/social/emotional needs are not being met. In her testimony, she further elaborated on the organizational strategies not employed, suggesting that Student could be receiving much more help. (P-5, Silver)

13. Dr. Aronoff, Student’s therapist for the last year, testified that in his opinion, Student is extremely unhappy, that she feels ostracized by her peers, and that she is extremely hard on herself, constantly feeling like she is not doing well enough academically and socially. She has learned to open up to him, and she is learning to handle problems, but this does not take away from the fact that she is very unhappy. He could not say whether he thought she would be better off in a setting which allows for mainstreaming, or in a setting where all the students are students with language based learning disabilities. (Aronoff)

14. BHRSD staff asserts that the teaching is in substantial conformance with Student’s 1998 – 1999 IEP. The teachers say that they are providing the language based teaching, that the curriculum is thematic, that the staff meet regularly in order to assure carryover in the classes, particularly between reading and English, but also social studies and science. Further, this meeting has been more formalized since the spring of this year. They say that Student is provided the amount of redundancy, previewing, spiraling necessary for her, and that she does not need anymore of a thematic approach used for such redundancy, etc. This is particularly true because so much of her education is 1:1, the teaching is at her level, and she is doing well. As to the written expression, such is taught through the Project Read program, and although this work has been at the more basic sentence level, by the end of the school year, the work has progressed to the lengthier paragraph writing. This development has occurred in the English class and is beginning to occur in the Project Read work. Although there is little material in Student’s portfolio, this is as is should be, for Student is selecting only her best work. As to the computer access and use, Student has been provided a series of regular education keyboarding classes, but she is reluctant to use the computer for writing assignments, for she is slowed down by her keyboarding skills. Further, given the limited writing assignments, there has been little opportunity. Finally, she has had little time to use the computer. As to the organizational skills, Student does not need to fill out the assignment notebook, for she knows her assignments. The last area of alleged non-compliance involved social/emotional skill development. Student was provided a six-week series of group work with the guidance counselor. Further, Student appeared to interact well with her peers, often being a leader in academic group work. (Plungis, Shook, Scheyer, Shephardson)

15. Student visited the White Oak School, a private Ch. 766 approved school, and very much wants to go there. She does not want to return to BHRSD’s Searles Middle School. (Parent)

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

I find that BHRSD substantially complied with Student’s 1998 – 1999 IEP’s mandate for language based services, for organizational/study skills, and for social skills development. However, I find that BHRSD failed to comply with the mandated computer services. Finally, even if the alleged non-compliances proved true, I find no basis for ordering Student’s 1999 – 2000 placement at the White Oak School, as compensation for any BHRSD’s non-compliance. In sum, extra keyboard training is the appropriate remedy. My reasoning follows.

1. Parents claim that BHRSD failed to comply with Student’s IEP because it did not provide the language based program with a tightly coordinated thematic teaching approach. However, such is not persuasive, for the IEP does not mandate this. First, I note that the evaluation reports available to the TEAM when it wrote the IEP, do not call for the thematic approach. Rather, Dr. Bruno-Golden’s report calls for coordination between the speech/language therapist and the teachers, but not between the teachers as would be necessary for a thematic approach. (P-1, S-13) Further, the mediated agreement called neither for the coordination between the speech/language therapist and the teachers, nor for the thematic teaching approach. (See P-2, S-14) Finally, the IEP is, at best, confusing in regards to this. True, the IEP does state that Student needs a small classroom with language based teaching approaches. Further, it states that the daily oral language development services should be tightly coordinated within the subject area content. However, this lacks clarity, for “language based teaching approach” is rather generic in meaning. The IEP says nothing specific as to a thematic approach requiring coordination between the teachers. The only mention is thematic mapping (page 3 of IEP), and this does not require a coordinated curriculum. In fact, the teachers use thematic mapping techniques. (Shook) The only coordination called for appears to be between the English and reading teachers in regards to grammar and punctuation and writing poetry. (See page 9 of the IEP) In fact, Ms. Plungis and Ms. Shook do meet regularly to coordinate their work, Ms. Plungis gives Ms. Shook worksheets and suggestions, and they reinforce each other’s teaching by working on the “who”, “what”, “where” writing skills. (Plungis) Further, the speech/language therapist’s role is unclear. She is to provide 1:1 therapy two x week, however, her coordination with the teachers is unclear. The only mention is that she will speak with the teachers regarding Student’s progress. (See page 14). True, the IEP does say that the daily oral language development service should be tightly coordinated within the subject area content, but this must refer to the teacher’s work, for only the teacher, not the speech/language therapist, is working daily with Student. Despite this lack of clarity, the teachers are in communication with the speech/language therapist, albeit not formally until this spring. Indeed, the IEP is, at best, vague as to its call for a language based program with a thematic approach closely coordinated between the speech/language therapist and teachers, and between the teachers. Despite this vagueness, the staff has been providing a certain level of coordination in teaching skills as well as reinforcing subject matter. (Plungis, Shook)

2. Given that the IEP lacked clarity as to the role of the speech/language therapist and the need for a coordinated thematic approach, the parents may be accurate that the program is less intensive in its language based program than they would like. This, however, does not amount to the non-compliance alleged. Further, a finding of substantial compliance does not mean that staff development may not be helpful in order to intensify and improve the language based teaching. Parents aptly pointed out many lost opportunities for emphasizing and using language in a way which would support Student’s learning. (Silver, Parent) For instance, Dr. Silver was persuasive in her observation that the extensive use of worksheets and little expository writing, denied Student the more intensive language based experiences. Dr. Silver was particularly persuasive in her discussion of such lost opportunities, as well as in her discussion of possible organizational strategies not used. Given the complexity of Student’s learning profile (Vecchia), given the increasing challenge such presents to Student and to the teachers, given the teachers’ clear dedication to Student, and given the persuasiveness of Dr. Silver in her stated opinion that more could be done, consultation from an expert in language based programming would indeed, be helpful.

3. Parents were unpersuasive in their assertion that BHRSD failed to comply with the IEP in regards to the social/emotional skill development. First, the IEP did not call for any peer group counseling or indeed any other kind of counseling. It only called for the staff to address her social skills ongoing, with no time allotted. Further, the objectives listed in the IEP were rather limited in nature, addressing communication with her peers. (See page 26 of the IEP). In fact, the teachers did address social issues in a limited way. That is, they provided the regular education program with 18 sessions of group work, working on issues of trust, respect for differences, listening skills, problem solving, etc. She was an active participant in this. (Shephardson) Further, the teachers fostered peer interactions through the academics – peer correcting, peer tutoring, group problem solving, etc. (Scheyer) This finding of compliance is not to say that Student is not in need of more expansive social/emotional skill development. The record supports a finding of much greater need than BHRSD was aware of. Although the staff recognized that she was a “satellite child” with no real friendships, they were unaware of the emotional cost this would have. Based on the testimony from Parent and Dr. Aronoff, Student’s social/emotional status is of significant concern, and needs to be addressed carefully by the teachers, the school’s psychologist, and Student’s therapist. If the TEAM, with these individuals, has not already done this, BHRSD shall convene the TEAM for this purpose. If BHRSD’s placement can maximize her development, then this is a less restrictive setting than is a private school setting, and is therefore more desirable. However, if it cannot, then BHRSD must consider an outside placement. Student’s prospective needs were not the focus in this case, and accordingly, a finding and an order would be premature.

4. Parents were unpersuasive in their assertion that BHRSD failed to address Student’s organizational skill development to such an extent that would warrant compensatory services. First, the IEP calls for the aide to work on organizational skills in conjunction with study skills. It may be that the staff should have insisted that Student use her assignment notebook. However, the fact that Student wrote assignments on a sheet, and that she did not have problems knowing her homework assignment, certainly negates the need for compensation for this mistake. Further, study skills encompass much more than just filling out the notebook, (see IEP objectives, page 11) and the staff clearly worked with her on these skills while helping her to study and complete her assignments. (Scheyer, Plungis, Shook) It may be true that there is more that could have been done, but this does not amount to non-compliance. Rather, it falls within the realm of teachers’ discretion.

5. Parents point to Ms. Shook’s use of too easy and babyish work as evidence of non-compliance. Such is unpersuasive. It is within the purview of the teacher to select materials for Student, and given the complexity of Student’s learning profile, disagreements as to the appropriate skill level and even maturity level of materials, are understandable, and certainly are not indicative of any non-compliance. Having said this, it is disconcerting to note that Ms. Shook was so surprised to discover late in the school year, that Student could write lengthy paragraphs. (Shook) Further, it is disconcerting that she used materials so much below Student’s maturity level. True, the teachers did not want to undermine her confidence by over-challenging her. But clearly, Student was demeaned by being given this material.(Parent) Given the staff’s clear dedication to teaching this student, I am persuaded that this problem will be corrected through a closer look in selecting materials.

6. BHRSD did fail to timely reconvene its TEAM to consider the later evaluation reports by Dr. Vargo and Ms. Grizzell, and this is in violation of the regulations. However, the remedy to such is not a private school placement, but a due process hearing to obtain such reconvening of the TEAM. This decision would order BHRSD to convene its TEAM, however, BHRSD has already done so in April, 1999.

7. BHRSD further failed to provide sufficient computer training and access, as specifically called for in Dr. Bruno-Golden’s evaluation report, in the mediated agreement, and in the IEP. The teachers’ reason for this non-compliance is understandable, in that Student did little writing expression, and when she did, she did not always want to use the computer for writing. Further, her limited keyboarding skills slow down her writing process. (Plungis, Scheyer, Shook). However, her reluctance is most probably based in her lack of keyboarding skills, and accordingly, the limited keyboard training offered by BHRSD was insufficient for her. Given Dr. Bruno-Golden’s rather emphatic call for such service and training, the staff should have taken the necessary steps to ensure Student’s development of keyboarding skills. True, the IEP calls for encouraging – rather than requiring -Student’s use of the computer. However, the IEP also includes an objective to increase keyboarding skills. (See IEP, page 2) The limited keyboard training was clearly insufficient, and this undermined the intent that she be encouraged to use the computer. Compensation in the form of additional keyboard training is warranted. Such should be provided, if possible, over the summer, in order to prepare her for computer use during the school year. The extent of such keyboard training should be decided by the TEAM, but it should be as intensive as possible. If the parties are unable to agree to the extent of this, the Hearing Officer will reconvene the hearing for determination.

8. Parents’ claim that BHRSD failed to comply with the IEP, even if supported by the evidence, does not lead to the compensatory services requested in this case, i.e., a private school placement. The nature and extent of non-compliance does not warrant such a drastic remedy, for the basis for non-compliance allegations were generally intertwined in educational discretion within the purview of the teachers. Thus, the teachers may have worked on sentence writing rather than more lengthy written expression, based on their questionable assessment of Student’s skill level and needs. Although one might disagree with decisions such as this, it is not the kind of action that would support a claim for compensation. The teachers may have fallen short in intensifying language experience – oral and written – but, again, absent a clear failure to implement the IEP, this does not rise to the level of failure supporting a claim for compensation. The teachers may have fallen short on teaching organizational skills – but again, the failure does not amount to a denial of services warranting compensation. Further, placing Student at a more restrictive placement would be appropriate only if that placement would provide FAPE in the least restrictive setting. Such would be appropriate only if BHRSD cannot provide the language based services necessary for Student, or if, even with the language-based component, BHRSD’s placement cannot provide for her social/emotional development. There is nothing in the record to support a finding that BHRSD cannot provide a more intensive language based program. The staff has Wilson and Project Read training, and the staff has already formalized its coordination between the teachers and the speech/language therapist. As stated above, consultation from an expert in language based programming, could be helpful to the staff. Further, it would be helpful to all participants if the IEP is written more explicitly as to the intended language based services. Clearly, given the current strengths of the program, and given the room for further development, there is no reason to believe the staff cannot provide more intensive language based programming. As to whether BHRSD can address her social/emotional needs for the 1999 – 2000 school year, a determination prior to the TEAM’s determination, would be premature.

9. The parties provided insufficient evidence to support or contradict Parents’ claim that the White Oak School can provide a program which meets Student’s academic and social/emotional needs. Given the complexity of Student’s learning profile, testimony from the White Oak School staff is needed for such determination. However, given the fact that a private school placement is not warranted as compensation for non-compliance, the Hearing Officer need not address this issue at this time.

10. This hearing officer will retain jurisdiction until the parties agree on, or a BSEA hearing is held to resolve the questions regarding, Student’s 1999 – 2000 IEP.

ORDER

BHRSD shall provide to Student the compensatory keyboarding services. Further, BHRSD shall provide to the Hearing Officer either an agreed upon 1999 – 2000 IEP or notice that a BSEA hearing is needed to resolve the matter.

Signed,

Sandra W. Sherwood

BSEA Hearing Officer

Date: July 23, 1999

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