Boston Public Schools – BSEA #01-1853



<br /> Boston Public Schools – BSEA #01-1853<br />

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

BUREAU OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS

BSEA# 01-1853

IN RE: BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

DECISION

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 those statutes. A hearing occurred on August 24, 2001 at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) in Malden, MA. Those present for all or part of the proceeding were:

Mother

Lori Goldberg, SLP-CCC. Speech/Language Pathologist; New England Medical Center’s Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN)

Deborah Krol 766 Coordinator-Carroll School

Jennifer Williams Ass’t Program Director-Cluster 3 Boston Schools

Ellen Urbon, M.Ed. Teacher, McCormack School, Boston, MA

Lisa Sampson Advocate for Parents

Reece Erlichman, Esq. Litigation Coordinator; Boston Public Schools

Amy Rogers, Esq. Ass’t Corporation Counsel, Boston Public Schools

Joan Beron Hearing Officer; BSEA

The official record of the hearing consists of joint documents marked JA- L and J1-6 and approximately four hours of recorded oral testimony. The record closed on August 31, 2001 when written closing the Hearing Officer received full closing arguments from both Parties.

ISSUES

I. Can Student’s IEP be implemented in the Bright LD program at the Dever School?

II. If not, will modifications and/or accommodations to this program enable Student to achieve her maximum possible development in the least restrictive environment?

III. If not, does Student require a private day placement at the Carroll School to appropriately address the Student’s language based learning disabilities and emotional disabilities to assure her maximum possible educational development within the least restrictive educational environment?

PARENT’S POSITION

Student has been diagnosed with a Language-Based Learning Disability and requires a language-based program for Bright LD students that incorporates Assistive technology. The Parent’s evaluator observed the proposed Bright LD program during the 2000-2001 SY and found that it was not language-based and that neither the teacher nor the paraprofessional had training in Orton-Gillingham (O-G) or Wilson. The class also did not have the appropriate Assistive Technology needed for Student. Therefore Mother was justified in enrolling Student at the Carroll School. Even though the teacher is not the same, the program remains inappropriate because the new teacher’s experience is mostly with students with mental health problems and the paraprofessional remains in the classroom. As such, Student’s IEP can not be implemented in Boston’s program. Therefore, Parent should be reimbursed for the deposit paid to the Carroll School and an IEP should designate the Carroll School because it offers the language-based programming and assistive technology Student requires to maximize her educational development in the least restrictive environment.

SCHOOL’S POSITION

Boston agrees with the Parent’s evaluator’s recommendations but asserts that it can provide Student with an appropriate program. Boston has hired a teacher with experience in teaching bright LD students and experience and training in O-G. This teacher can train the paraprofessional and can carry out the goals and objectives in Student’s IEP. As such, Parent’s request for reimbursement should be DENIED.

PROFILE OF THE STUDENT/EDUCATIONAL HISTORY

1. Student is an 11 ½ year old girl who resides with her two siblings and parents in Boston, MA. Student has an IQ in the superior range (Full scale score 127) (J2). She has been diagnosed with dyslexia (JB, also see J4, J5). Student has weaknesses in language processing and recall of lengthy or complex verbal material, weaknesses in complex grammar and syntax, and expressive language formulation deficits including difficulty in word retrieval and summarizing. Student also has mild pragmatic difficulties during social conversation (JI, see also JD, J1).

2. Student began having problems acquiring literacy skills during 1 st grade. Boston evaluated her that year and found Student to have no special needs. Student began receiving special education resource room and Title I services in 3 rd grade to address her language arts skills. Student exhibited stress about her academic difficulties during that time. Student received an independent evaluation during 4 th grade. That evaluation revealed deficits in reading, writing and comprehension. Student was diagnosed with dylexia and superior cognitive intelligence in that evaluation (JB). She has been attending the Bright L.D. program at the Paul Dever School (Dever) since October 2000 and has done well in that program. The proposed IEP designates a substantially separate program for Student in the Bright L.D. program at the McCormick Middle School with monthly speech/language consultation (JA). CCSN recommended a substantially separate language-based program with team teaching and consultation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP); ( compare JA, J11). The Parents accepted the IEP ( see JA). The IEP however runs from March 2001-March 2002. When Student enters the 6 th grade, the TEAM has proposed that she attend the Bright LD program at the McCormick Middle School (Williams).

3. Student had been previously evaluated at New England Medical Center’s Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN) who had recommended that Student attend a language-based program with students with similar cognitive profiles (JB). Parents had the speech-language pathologist (SLP) Lori Goldberg observe the proposed program. Ms. Goldberg observed disruptive students who often refused to do the assignments given to them and a paraprofessional who gave the students the answers (Goldberg, JB). Ms. Goldberg concluded that the program was not appropriate for Student because it was not language-based, did not contain the rule-based instruction (O-G) the Student needed and neither the teacher nor the paraprofessional had training in O-G (JB). The program also did not have any classroom computers to support reading or written language and did not have a SLP as part of the program; (JB, see also J3). Boston told Ms. Goldberg and Parents that the current teacher would no longer be teaching that program in the 01-02 SY and that it was in the process of hiring a teacher with experience in teaching language-based programs and training in O-G; Id.

4. Parents applied to the Carroll School for the 01-02 SY. Student was put on the waiting list at Carroll and accepted into the program on June 26, 2001 (JG, Mother). Carroll School required a $1000 deposit to ensure enrollment by July 9, 2001 and 75% of the $24, 9000 tuition by August 1, 2001 with the balance due on December 1, 2001 (JG). Parent sent the Carroll School the $1000 deposit but has not sent the tuition (Stipulation).

5. On or about July 20, 2001, Boston informed Parents1 , that they were going to hire Ellen Urbon to teach the Bright L.D. class at the McCormick School. Boston also informed Parents that Ms. Joyce would probably continue as the Paraprofessional and that she had not been trained in O-G or Wilson, had not elected to be trained prior to the school year and that no in-service trainings were scheduled (JF). Boston also indicated that it did not at that time know when the broken computers would be repaired or replaced or if language-based software would be available but would let the Parent know when they had that information. Lesson plans, specific language-based software and teacher and SLP schedules were not provided because they were not yet available; Id.

6. Parent received Ms. Urbon’s resume on July 20, 2001. That resume indicated that Ms. Urbon had a Ph.D. from the Boston College (B.C.) in Education and Educational Psychology and an M.Ed. from B.C. with certification in Moderate Special Needs and School Psychology. The resume also indicated that Ms. Urbon has been trained in O-G and Wilson Reading Approaches (JH-1). Ms. Urbon had taught at the Arlington School from 1972-1994. While at the Arlington School Ms. Urbon was the Chairman of the Mathematics Department, developed and implemented in-service training for teaching staff and coordinated Arlington School’s reaccredidation. The resume also indicated that Ms. Urbon had conducted private high school tutoring since 1989, had taught as a short and long-term substitute in special education classes in Watertown and Belmont MA during 1998-2001, had been an educational consultant at Children’s Hospital from 1989-1996 and tested and taught psychiatrically involved students at the Wild Acres Inn in Arlington, MA from 1992-1997; Id .

7. On July 24, 2001, Boston supplemented written information about Ms. Urbon’s teaching experience (JB-3). It informed Parent that Ms. Urbon had received three years of training in Wilson and four years of training in O-G through Ida Crebb when working with her in her reading program at Massachusetts General Hospital. It also informed Parent that Ms. Urbon was completing her Ph.D. with a concentration in reading and had also received a Master’s degree with this concentration. Finally, Boston told Parent that Ms. Urbon’s had taught LD students, including bright LD students, in a class of six to twelve students but that she had worked for a tutor from 1998 to the current time to take care of a sick child (JH-3).

8. On July 27, 2001 Boston provided further information due to Parent’s and Advocate’s concern that Ms. Urbon had “insufficient and inadequate training, experience and credentials” to teach the Bright LD class. On that day it informed Parent that Ms. Urbon was certified to teach Moderate Special Needs and Secondary education, that Ms. Urbon was working on her dissertation in reading and had received her O-G training between 1965-1970. It also informed Parent that Ms. Urbon was a member of the O-G society using the O-G method of instruction with 60% of her tutoring students and while she was substituting at the Weston High School’s Learning Center between 1998-1998. In addition, Boston also told Parent that the students Ms. Urbon had taught at the Arlington School did have mental health issues as a primary diagnosis but that they also had LD diagnoses and that many of these students had previously come from the Carroll and Landmark Schools. It also informed Parent that Ms. Urbon had incorporated language-based instruction into the math program that she designed. Finally, Parent was informed that Ms. Urbon had received her most recent Wilson training while substituting in Weston and was intending to take a refresher course in Wilson. (JH-2)

9. A hearing occurred in this matter on August 17, 2001.2 Lori Goldberg testified on behalf of the Parents. She was not able to comment on the proposed program because she had not seen it in effect with the new proposed teacher (Goldberg). Nor was she able to comment on the appropriateness of the peers because all but one student would be moving up to high-school programs and she had not seen the IEPs of the students entering the Bright LD class; Id. She did however testify that for the program to be appropriately language-based, the instruction and class discussion must be highly organized with the teacher directly modeling and questioning the students to encourage their comprehension of the material and elicit elaboration and expansion of their language. Student should be paired with others of similar intellectual ability with similar rates of processing to ensure appropriate group interaction. In addition, the teacher would need to use oral and visual methods such as graphic organizers, written outlines, charts and schedules to ensure comprehension of the material. The teacher should also review lessons from the previous day, outline the material to be covered in that day’s lesson integrating new information with previously learned material, summarize what was done in that lesson and preview new lessons for the following day integrating new information with previously learned material. The Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) should provide direct service (co-teaching) to the program as well as consultation to the classroom teacher and paraprofessional for one to two hours per week to ensure that generalization of activities and appropriate modifications are occurring (Goldberg, see also JI).

10. Ms. Goldberg also described the training that staff needed to have to teach a language-based program. This would include coursework in language-based learning disabilities, training in a rule-based reading approach such as O-G or Wilson, and training in rule-based writing approaches such as Project Read. The teacher should also preferably have experience teaching a language-based program to LD students and be willing to receive speech/language consultation, mentoring and continuing training in LD as needed. The Paraprofessional should similarly have training in rule-based reading approaches or if not specific course work, extensive consultation (1-2 hours per week) by a qualified teacher or mentor and a speech/language pathologist (SLP).

11. Ms. Urbon also testified in this matter. She explained that she first learned O-G in 1967, working with Ida Krebbs at the Krebbs School in Lexington (now Cotting School). While at Krebbs, Ms. Urbon taught reading, language and math to bright middle school boys diagnosed with emotional problems and LD. She taught there until 1972. At that time, while obtaining her Master’s degree in Special Education and School Psychology at Boston University, Ms. Urbon did a practicum at the Arlington School. She remained there for twenty three years (until 1994) chairing the math department there, coordinating the ten year NEASC re-accrediation, developing and implementing in-service training for teaching staff and teaching a forty minute class of three to eleven children whose secondary diagnosis was LD. Due to the needs of the students Ms. Urbon often did serial individual work with each student giving the others corresponding work; ( see Urbon). While at the Arlington School Ms. Urbon designed a language-based curriculum in geometry for bright students (Urbon, see also JH)3 . While at the Arlington School Ms. Urbon completed the educational portion of a Ph.D. program in Developmental and Educational Psychology (1983)4 . She also conducted educational testing at Children’s Hospital (1989-1996) and the Wild Acres Inn (1992-1997). Many of those tested were children with learning disabilities (Urbon). In addition, Ms. Urbon taught for two years as an adjunct professor at Lesley College and began her private tutoring practice (1989-present) (Urbon, JH).

12. Ms. Urbon left teaching in 1994 and took a few years off to tend to a sick child. She is now able to go back to work full time (Urbon). Ms. Urbon began substitute teaching in 1997. Much of this substitute experience has been long term assignments individually teaching O-G and Wilson in special education resource rooms. For three months (March-June 1999), Ms. Urbon co-taught an 8 th grade English class and provided in-classroom support for a 8 th grade Social Studies class in the Watertown Middle School. This in-classroom support included support for home assignments, test preparation, long-term projects and study skills (JJ). Administrators have been pleased with her work (Urbon, see also JJ). Ms. Urbon has also continued her private math and language arts tutoring for Middle and High School students tutoring hundreds of students during her tutoring tenure (Urbon). During this individual tutoring Ms. Urbon has the students preview the material, asks questions to find out what they know, reviews and reinforces skills, integrates homework with concepts and uses mapping, graphic organizers, O-G and story marker strategies among others (Urbon).

13. Ms. Urbon was “grandfathered” as a certified Moderate Special Needs teacher. She is not currently certified. Boston has applied for a waiver. Ms. Urbon will take her certification test in communication on September 22, 2001 and if she passes will be fully certified (Urbon). Ms. Urbon does not anticipate any problem in passing the exam (Urbon). Ms. Urbon also plans to update her Wilson and Project Read training and has kept up with developments in O-G through workshops and meetings at the O-G Society. She is not certified in O-G but is willing to undergo certification in O-G, Wilson and Project Read; Id. .

14. Ms. Urbon has reviewed her students IEPs and understands that Student will be receiving speech/language consultation. She has not worked with a SLP in the past. “[She] “does not have a clear understanding of what a SLP would do but [is] willing to integrate whatever suggestions the SLP would have into her program”. She does not know currently know the Lexia computer program that Student is familiar with but is computer literate and can read a manual. At present Ms. Urbon is familiar with PPL, Excel, Basic, Windows among many others. She can not name specific computer programs designed to address LD deficits at hearing but is familiar with some good programs through the Learning Company (among others) and is willing to access people who may have more specific information.

15. Ms. Urbon will begin as the teacher in the Bright LD program at the McCormick School on Monday, August 27, 2001. She will attend a three-day workshop that will orient her to information about the curriculum, about the McCormick Middle School and the school climate. She will during the course of the year receive eighteen hours of professional development in Literacy and in Math. Professional development is also offered in Wilson and Project Read and other instructional strategies (Williams). Ms. Urbon will receive a formal written evaluation on November 15, 2001. A support person (mentor) will meet with or observe Ms. Urbon at least once per month but can come in as often as once per week. Boston has not identified a support person as of the hearing but had indicated that it would probably be one of two teachers who are Wilson trained. Ms. Williams has also taught LD students at the Dever and as a Cluster leader in the McCormick Middle School at least monthly and more often if needed (Williams). If requested, Ms. Urbon will also have access to math and language coaches who can model lessons with teachers, provide observation and critique her instruction (Williams).

16. Student’s prior Bright LD teacher at the Dever Elementary School (Beverly Williams) is also available to assist Ms. Urbon. The Dever Elementary School is fifty feet away from the McCormick Middle School. The schools are connected through an overpass. Ms. Urbon has already had a two-hour meeting with Ms. Williams and plans to access her as regularly as she is able (Urbon). The Dever Elementary School operates on a late schedule running from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The McCormick Middle School operates on an early schedule runnning from 7:20 a.m. – 2:25 p.m. Ms. Williams often comes to school prior to her start time (Williams). When however, the Hearing Officer asked Boston if a regularly scheduled consultation time could be set up between the two teachers, Boston replied that it “may not be in the realm of dooability” (Williams).

17. When Ms. Urbon begins teaching, she plans to pattern her classroom similar to Beverly Williams5 program at the Dever School Bright LD program. Each day will have two hours of Language Arts instruction, ninety minutes of math instruction, fifty minutes of Social Studies instruction three times weekly and fifty minutes of Science twice per week. Ms. Urbon will meet with the Science and Social Studies teachers to ensure that she is using the same curriculum and will integrate each subject with each other using language-based techniques. She will, like Ms. Williams, continue to provide some one-to-one O-G reading instruction and will use Lexia with the students. The students would be integrated for Art, Music or other nonacademic subjects or as their IEPs allow (Urbon)6 . Nonacademic integration would be appropriate for Student (Goldberg).

18. Ms. Urbon’s class will be serviced by Ms. Urbon and the paraprofessional who has worked in the program for eight years (Williams, Urbon). Ms. Urbon has not worked with a paraprofessional before but has supervised teachers when she was at the Arlington school. She has not had the opportunity to meet the assigned Paraprofessional. Ms. Urbon concurs with Ms. Goldberg that it would be inappropriate for the paraprofessional to give the students the answers. She would however be in the classroom with the Paraprofessional and would meet with her regularly to teach her appropriate strategies and have her model what she was doing with the students. If the Paraprofessional was not able to do this she would assign her other work and speak to the Administration about finding another Paraprofessional in the building who was interested in doing language-based work and ask about having that person assigned to her classroom (Urbon).

19. As of the date of hearing there were no desktop computers in the room that worked; however as of the start of school at least one working desktop will be put into that room (Williams). There are twelve Alpha Smarts assigned to the McCormick Middle School. Two are dedicated for use in the Bright LD classroom. The students are also assigned to go to the Computer Lab. There is a Technical department in the building that fixes computer problems. Ms. Williams is not aware of an Assistive Technology specialist in the McCormick school or in Cluster 3 (Williams).

20. There are currently seven students slated to be in the McCormick Bright LD class with one teacher and one paraprofessional (JE).7 The class can hold up to twelve children or fourteen children if a waiver is granted (Williams). All these students are at or above grade level and have language deficits. Five of the seven students are sixth graders with one 7 th and one 8 th grader. None of the students have behavioral problems as a primary diagnosis ( see JE). One of the 6 th graders has leukemia and has had two strokes. He is diagnosed with depression and receives school therapy twice a week. The 8 th grader moved to Boston in 6 th grade as a regular education student and exhibited behavior problems in 6 th and 7 th grade. He moved to the Bright LD program during mid 7 th grade and now gets along well with teachers and peers (JE).

21. Parents would like Student to attend the Carroll School. The Carroll School is a private Chapter 766 approved day program that services students with learning and/or language disabilities. It also offers community training in O-G and Project Read and if requested, contracts with School Districts to create language-based programming in the public school. Carroll also has two O-G tutors who service students in the Watertown Public Schools (Krol).

22. Carroll accepts students with language-based learning disabilities who have average to above average cognitive skills. Some students may have emotional problems due to issues connected to their learning disability but do not have behavioral issues as a primary diagnosis (Krol). Carroll teaches all academic subjects through a language-based model using the O-G and Project Read approaches. Story Form is also used in Social Studies and Language Arts classes. Language Arts and Social Studies teachers must be trained in O-G before being hired or within the first year of teaching. Math and Science teachers must be O-G trained within three years. New teachers are given two days of orientation. Teachers either are special education certified or eligible for certification and teach on a “waiver’ from the Department of Education. Student’s proposed class contains eight students. All are diagnosed with language-based learning disabilities. Some may also have emotional or behavioral problems as an “off shoot” of their learning disabilities. Student’s Language Arts teacher is Special Education certified. She is in her second year of teaching and is supervised by a Mentor once per week. Student’s History teacher is a new teacher who is pursuing her certification. The Science teacher is also new to teaching Science and will be pursing her certification. None of the classes are serviced by a paraprofessional (Krol).

23. Carroll’s school day runs from 8:15 a.m. –3:15 p.m. on Monday-Thursday and from 8:15 a.m. –12:15 p.m. on Friday. The school runs on a five-day rotating class cycle. Within each day each student takes two fifty-minute periods of language arts and one period of Math, Science and Social Studies. All subjects use grade content material and students take the MCAS. Students also receive Physical Education, Woodworking, Music, Drama and/or Studio Arts. Students also take Performing Arts to work on expressive language skills and participate in a Bounders program. Bounders is a nonacademic outdoor program that emphasizes team-building, risk taking and self confidence. The Carroll School has access to Alpha Smarts and has a computer lab on campus. There are three Technology instructors that service the 235-240 students in the school. Carroll uses the Hyperstudio program for Science and Language Arts instruction and “Inspiration” a program similar to Project Read. They also use the Lexia program especially during 1:1 instruction. Carroll begins the year with paper and pencil instruction and builds in the software during the year.

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

There is no dispute that the Student is a student with special learning needs as defined by M.G.L. 71B and 20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq. , and is thus entitled to receive a free, appropriate public education that assures her maximum possible development within the least restrictive environment. This Student has dyslexia and requires language-based instruction with students with average to above average cognitive ability that have similar rates of processing to ensure appropriate group interaction and comprehension of the material (Goldberg). Student also needs access to appropriate computer based programs (e.g. Lexia) to support reading and written language skills and speech-language consultation to ensure that Student generalizes the comprehension, retrieval, processing, pragmatic and expressive and receptive language strategies she has learned (Goldberg). The person teaching Student’s program would need to have had training in rule based reading and writing approaches such as O-G, Wilson and Project Read. (S)he should also preferably have experience teaching a language-based program to LD students and be willing to receive speech/language consultation, mentoring and continued training in LD. The Paraprofessional should have similar training in rule based reading and writing approaches, or if not specific course work at least one to two hours of consultation per week by a qualified teacher, mentor or speech/language pathologist with experience in teaching students with language-based learning disabilities (Goldberg).

The Parties dispute whether the Teacher and Paraprofessional in the Bright LD program at the McCormick Middle School can implement Student’s program. After careful consideration of the testimony and documents presented in this matter, I find that Ms. Urbon can implement Student’s program if given appropriate support. The evidence shows that Ms. Urbon has a Masters and Ph.D in special education with particular emphasis in reading. She is trained in O-G, Wilson and Project Read and shows a willingness to take any refresher courses needed. Ms. Urbon has, since 1967, either taught or tested students with language-based learning disabilities. When asked by this Hearing Officer to give examples of language-based programming, Ms. Urbon was able to spontaneously give extensive and highly structured examples of teacher-directed discussion, modeling, multisensory cuing and integration of old and new material. Although she displayed a quiet manner, she was organized and concise and able to draw in others even though no one could give responses in the hearing format. Many of Ms. Urbon’s examples mirrored the recommendations given in Ms. Goldberg’s speech/language evaluation even though she had not read it and Ms. Goldberg did not give specific examples in her testimony ( see Urbon, Goldberg, J11). When asked to describe organizational strategies, Ms. Urbon indicated that she had in the past, and would with Student, use a loose-leaf notebook with two pockets that would be divided into separate subjects. The notebook would contain a study skills written outline that would specify the homework to be done, writing punctuation and spelling rules, templates and other graphic organizers. This would be appropriate; ( see J4).

The Parties agree that the Paraprofessional does not know O-G, Wilson or Project Read techniques. Ms. Urbon also agrees that if the Paraprofessional did indeed give the students the answers instead of assisting them in learning techniques and elaborating their language that would be inappropriate. A Paraprofessional is a Teacher’s Assistant and as such her role is to assist the teacher. No evidence has been presented that the Paraprofessional did anything other than assist that current teacher as directed or that this same Paraprofessional would not be willing to receive training during the school year or follow Ms. Urbon’s direction. Ms. Urbon was persuasive that she would meet regularly with the Paraprofessional and be in the room to ensure that she was following her instructions. If the Paraprofessional was not able to appropriately assist the teacher with the students Ms. Urbon would have her perform other tasks and ask the Adminstration to use another Paraprofessional at the McCormick who was interested in language-based instruction. Ms. Urbon, by her own admission, is not a timid young teacher. She was convincing that she could work with the Paraprofessional or ensure that an appropriate assistant was put in her classroom.

Parents maintain that Ms. Urbon is not qualified to teach Student because she is not currently certified in Moderate Special Needs, is not O-G, Project Read or Wilson certified nor had she at the time of hearing prepared lesson plans or a specific time for supervision of the paraprofessional. These concerns are valid but are not in this matter, impediments for this particular teacher. Ms. Urbon is a newly hired teacher. She has reviewed each student’s IEP and will upon reviewing the curriculum create weekly lesson plans as she has in other teaching situations. She will also, upon meeting the Paraprofessional, set up a common meeting/training time and will provide ongoing training in the classroom. This is appropriate. Ms. Urbon, like Student’s proposed History and Science teachers at Carroll, will be certified under the new regulations once she completes her test for certification. The regulations allow for a teacher to teach for a year with a waiver if working toward their certification; see 603 CMR 700.703(2). Ms. Urbon has been trained in O-G, Project Read and Wilson and has implemented programs using these techniques. She is willing to obtain or update certifications in all three methods and Boston will make room in Ms. Urbon’s schedule to allow this to occur. As such, lack of current certification is easily rectified and is not an impediment to implementing Student’s program.

Parents also maintain that Ms. Urbon is not qualified to teach Student because none of the students that Ms. Urbon taught carried a primary diagnosis of dyslexia. They also maintain that many of the students in the class have attentional and behavioral concerns that would interupt the class. The evidence however does not support Parent’s conclusions. Parent places great emphasis on the fact that most of Ms. Urbon’s students carry a primary diagnosis of emotional disability with a secondary diagnosis of LD. If however, a student requires language-based programming, his/her needs must be addressed regardless of whether (s)he has LD as a primary or secondary diagnosis; see e.g. Boston Public Schools BSEA 01-3847. Ms. Urbon has demonstrated that she is able to implement language-based programming. The IEPs of Student’s peers at McCormick reveal students with average to above average cognitive ability and language-based learning disabilities. Most show no evidence of any behavior problems. One student is diagnosed with depression and receives pull-out therapy but displays no behavior problems in the classroom. Another 8 th grader has displayed behavior problems prior to entering the Bright LD program in the 6 th grade but has had no behavior problems since that time. Student herself has had prior to entering the Bright LD program experienced stress regarding her academic difficulties. If Student were to attend Carroll she may encounter similar peers ( see Krol).

Finally, Parents have concerns about the supervision of the Teacher and her supervision of the Paraprofessional. Ms. Urbon does have experience in language-based instruction and current experience implementing individual instruction in a tutoring and resource room setting. She has not however consistently taught a group classroom setting with LD children since she left the Arlington School in 1994. She is willing to work with a speech/language pathologist and accept consultation but has never done so in the past and does not have a clear understanding of what a SLP would do. Ms. Urbon has extensive computer technology experience and is familiar with educational programs but has not yet used Lexia in the classroom.

Just as even the most seasoned litigators can get “rusty” if they haven’t tried a case in a while, so too can an experienced special education teacher. Ms. Urbon is new to the Boston school system and will need support to effectively implement Student’s IEP. She will need to see what a SLP would do in the classroom to effectively implement the modifications and strategies Student requires. She will also need ongoing support from a teacher experienced in teaching LD students and incorporating assistive technology into that program. Ms. Goldberg maintains that the proper support would be for Student to receive team teaching by a SLP in the classroom and for the teaching staff to receive SLP consultation from a SLP for a total of one to two hours per week. This is a reasonable recommendation. The IEP will be amended to reflect services from a SLP for one hour weekly. These services will consist of one 50-minute session per week of team teaching from a speech/language pathologist. The remaining time will be delivered as consultation to the teacher and the asssistant. Boston will also ensure that Ms. Urbon receives mentoring from a teacher with experience in implementing language-based programming in a group setting and experience in using Lexia. Beverly Williams has experience teaching a Bright LD program and both teachers have some overlapping time due to the location of both schools and the early schedule of McCormick and late schedule of the Dever. The Hearing Officer respectfully requests that Boston explore whether it can arrange for both teachers to have a scheduled time where each could observe the other in each classroom a few times as well as set a weekly schedule for Ms. Urbon to get support from Ms. Williams if needed. If not, Boston will arrange for another LD teacher to mentor Ms. Urbon for ten minutes weekly8 .

B. REIMBURSEMENT ISSUES

Student was accepted into the Carroll School on June 26, 2000. Parent was required to put down a $1000 deposit by July 9, 2000 to secure Student’s placement at Carroll. Boston had no teacher identified to teach the Bright LD program until July 20, 2001. As such, Boston will reimburse Parents $1000 deposit.

ORDER

Parent’s request for an IEP designating the Carroll school is DENIED. Boston shall modify the current IEP to reflect team teaching and consultation by a SLP for one hour per week and weekly consultation (at least 10 minutes) from an experience LD teacher. Boston will also reimburse Parent’s $1000 deposit for the Carroll School.

By the Hearing Officer,

Joan D. Beron

Date: September 7, 2001


1

This information was provided through responses to Parent’s discovery requests.


2

The hearing was originally scheduled for August 9, 2000 but was continued at the request of the Parent because one of the Parents due to the unavailability of one of her witnesses.


3

She did not have a copy of the curriculum and does not believe that it is currently used at the Arlington School because its population has changed.


4

Ms. Urbon’s dissertation concerns latency age children and reading (Urbon).


5

Beverly Williams teaches the Bright LD program at the Dever Elementary School. Jennifer Williams is an administrator in Cluster 3 of which the Dever School is a member.


6

One 6 th grader is integrated for social studies and science. Another is integrated for social studies only ( see JE).


7

Exhibit JE contains eight IEP’s. The Parties agree that Student 1 is not slated for the program because he is no longer living in Boston.


8

Boston indicated in testimony that it could provide weekly support for Ms. Urbon as a new teacher. Ten minutes is an appropriate time to make this support meaningful.


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