Brockton Public Schools v. Student – BSEA #02-0276
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS
Brockton Public Schools v. Student
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, November 21, 25, 26 and December 17, 2002 at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, before Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn, Hearing Officer.
Brockton requested a hearing on October 11, 2001. A hearing was scheduled for October 31, 2001. On October 25, 2001, Brockton requested a Postponement which the BSEA Granted and a Pre-Hearing Conference was scheduled for November 5, 2001. On October 29, 2001, the Parents requested a Postponement. The BSEA granted the requested postponement and a Pre-Hearing Conference was scheduled for November 29, 2001. On November 27, 2001, the Parents filed a request for Hearing. There was a Pre-Hearing Conference on November 29, 2001. The BSEA issued an Order on November 29 scheduling a conference call on December 21, 2001. The parties participated in a conference call on December 21, 2001 and the BSEA issued an Order for a written status update to be provided by February 15, 2002. The BSEA received the Parents’ written status update on March 15, 2002 and issued an Order for the parties to provide a written status update on March 15, 2002. The BSEA received the Parents’ written status update on March 15, 2002 and Parents’ request to provide a further status update by May 15, 2002. The BSEA granted Parents’ request and issued an Order for the parties to provide a written status update by May 15, 2002. The BSEA received Parents’ status update on May 14 and received Brockton’s status update on May 17. The BSEA then issued an Order for the parties to provide a written status update by May 31, 2001. The BSEA received Parents’ status update on May 31 and request to provide a written status update by June 28. The BSEA granted the Parents’ request and ordered the parties to provide a written status update by June 28. On June 28 the Parents filed their status update and requested permission to provide a written status update by August 15. Brockton submitted its written status update and request for a conference call on August 26. On September 3, the BSEA issued an Order for a conference call on September 19. The parties participated in a conference call on September 19 and the BSEA issued an Order requiring the Team to convene by October 3 and the Parents to respond to the proposed IEP by October 25. On September 24 the BSEA issued an order scheduling the matter for a Hearing on November 21, 25, and 26, 2002. On October 23, the BSEA received Parents’ request to extend the deadline for the Parents to respond to the IEP until November 5 to accommodate their educational consultant’s schedule. On October 24, the BSEA granted the Parents’ request and ordered the Parents’ consultant to observe the proposed program by October 29. On November 6 the BSEA ordered the parties to provide a written status update by November 12. On November 8 the BSEA received the rejected IEP from Brockton. On November 12 the BSEA received Brockton’s and the Parents’ written status updates. The Hearing was held on November 21, 25, 26, and December 17, 2002. On December 19 the BSEA issued an Order for a conference call on December 23 to discuss documents which had not been provided by a non-party pursuant to a subpoena. On December 23 the conference call did not proceed because the attorney for the non-party was not available. On January 13 the BSEA received Brockton’s assented to motion to extend the deadline for filing closing arguments until February 10. On January 15, 2003 the BSEA allowed the assented to motion to extend the deadline until February 10, 2003. The Hearing Officer received Brockton’s closing argument on February 10, 2003. The Parents submitted their closing argument on February 11, 20031 and the record closed at that time.
Those present for all or part of the Hearing were:
Marsha Stevens Parents’ educational consultant
Christer Larsson Student’s psychologist
Anne Marie Lasoski Parents’ neuropsychologist
Sam Schoenfeld Parents’ attorney
Mark Abbott Occupational therapist, Brockton Public Schools
Dorothy Milligan Speech language pathologist, Brockton Public Schools
Louise Andrews Team facilitator, Brockton Public Schools
Vincent Cerce, Jr. Adjustment Counselor, Brockton Public Schools
Lee Ann Churchill Special Education Teacher, Brockton Public Schools
Deborah Corvini Tutor/Special Education Teacher, Brockton Public Schools
Joanne Malonson Director of Special Education, Brockton Public Schools
Robert F. Putnam Consultant Behavioral Psychologist, Brockton Public Schools
Mary Joann Reedy Attorney, Brockton Public Schools
Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn Hearing Officer
The official record of this hearing consists of documents submitted by the Parents marked 1 through 60 and documents submitted by the School marked A through R and approximately 23 hours of recorded oral testimony.
1. Whether the IEP proposed for the 2001-2002 school year (East Junior High School) is reasonably calculated to provide Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting.
2. Whether the IEP proposed for the 2002-2003 school year (East Junior High School) is reasonably calculated to provide Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
3. Whether the East Junior High School placement proposed by the Brockton public schools is appropriate for the Student.
4. If the proposed placement is not appropriate, whether the Student requires an alternative placement.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE
1. The student (hereafter, “Student”) is a thirteen-year-old seventh grade student2 residing in Brockton, Massachusetts, within the Brockton Public School District (hereafter, “Brockton”). He is diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, ADHD, Soto Syndrome, and Tourette’s Syndrome. (P-52) He last attended the Brockton Public Schools in the 2000-2001 school year (Student’s sixth grade) when he attended the Angelo School in an inclusion classroom. (S-39, Mother) Student has a verbal IQ of 80, a performance IQ of 91 and a full scale IQ of 84. (P-29, S-I) Student demonstrates deficits in the areas of attention and pragmatic language. He has significant difficulty with written math and his social understanding and social skills are very limited. (P-29, P-54) Student takes several medications including Adderol, Luvox, Clonodine, and Clonopine. (S-54)
2. Mother testified that Student was on an IEP since he was three years old. (Mother) Student attended the North River Collaborative where he was in a small self-contained classroom. In 1997 he left the North River Collaborative and attended the Downey School. He attended the Downey School until the fifth grade (1999-2000) and attended the Angelo School for the 2000-2001 school year, Student’s sixth grade. (P-14, P-18, P-39) For the 2001-2002 school year, Brockton proposed an IEP for the East Junior High School (hereafter, EJHS) PDD/Autism Program. Parents rejected the IEP and Student remained at home for the entire school year. Brockton again proposed an IEP for the EJHS program for the 2002-2003 school year. Parents again rejected the IEP and Student remained at home until December 2002 when the Parents unilaterally placed him at the Pathways Academy. (Mother) Parents accepted all of Student’s IEPs until March 20, 2000, when they postponed their decision on the March 9, 2000 – March 9, 2001 IEP and requested an independent evaluation. (P-27)
3. As part of the requested independent evaluation Student received an occupational therapy evaluation at the Braintree Hospital on March 29, 2000. The O.T., Jennifer Dieso, noted “weakness in the areas of sensory processing, tone, static and dynamic postural control, UE strength, coordination and hand skill development, motor planning skills, and visual motor/perceptual skills. She stated that his sensory defensiveness, modulation, and processing skills are greatly impacting his ability to complete functional skills in the home, community and school environments.” Ms. Dieso reported that Student would benefit from a strong sensory diet implemented in the classroom with consultation from an O.T. experienced in sensory integration techniques. She recommended “individual and group treatment to help Student gain functional independence and work through his sensory processing skills that are the primary cause of his weakness and decreased functional independence.” She stated that his classroom teacher should implement his sensory diet into the classroom routine. (P-28)
4. Student received a neuropsychological evaluation from Joel Rosenbaum, Ph.D., on April 7, 2000. Dr. Rosenbaum noted that Student presented as quite distractible and socially immature. He reported Student’s full scale IQ as being 84, in the low average range; his performance IQ to be 91 (the lowest end of the average range relative to age peers); and his verbal IQ to be 80 (the lowest end of the average range)3 . He found Student’s “basic reading fundamentals” to be “well established” but opined that Student would have significant difficulty understanding what he has read due to his difficulties sustaining attention. He did not detect a specific language based or non-verbal learning disability, but stated that Student presented with a “combination of behavioral/psychological issues including anxiety, depression, obsessive behaviors, poor social skills, and a severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” He noted Student’s difficulty with organization skills and his “extremely poor handwriting/orthography.” He recommended that Student participate in a social skills training group to further develop his social skills. He noted that Student appeared to be doing relatively well in his inclusion setting as confirmed by his evaluation. He was concerned about Mother’s report that other students were making fun of Student and scaring him while he was on the toilet. Dr. Rosenbaum found that in the context of Student’s poor social skills and inefficient coping strategies the incidents seemed to be causing Student increased anxiety. He stated that Student would be likely to perform best in an environment that provides him with structure and routine, as a predictable routine would cause less anxiety for him. He recommended a small student to teacher ratio with opportunities for hands on practice and repetition. He recommended allowing Student to take short breaks if he seems overloaded and stated that he may need a place to unwind and reduce stress during the school day. He recommended that complex assignments be broken down into manageable “chunks” and that Student be given extra time to complete tasks. Finally, he recommended that a teacher meet with Student at the beginning and end of each day to help him get organized and inform him of any scheduling changes which may take place that day and to ensure that he is prepared to do his homework. (P-29)
5. Student received a speech and language evaluation from Myah Schecter, MS,CCC- SLP at Healthsouth Braintree on May 4, 2000. Ms. Schecter noted that Student presents with decreased receptive and expressive language skills. She observed difficulties with pragmatic skills such as poor eye contact and topic initiation, maintenance and termination. She recommended that Student receive speech language therapy twice per week for 45 minutes per session individually and as part of a group. (P-30)
6. Student took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in March 2000. He earned a Core Total grade equivalent of 5.4 on the level 12 test. His national percentile rank was 28. His overall achievement was reported as somewhat below average for sixth grade. His reading comprehension score was about average when compared to other sixth grade students nationally. Student’s areas of relative strength were vocabulary and reading comprehension. His relative weakness was math problems and data interpretation. (P-32)
7. Parents accepted the 6/12/00-6/12/01 IEP in full on July 16, 2000. The acceptance was conditioned upon the addition of counseling with the school adjustment counselor 1 x 30 minutes per week which was added to the IEP via an Amendment. The service delivery grid indicated that the counseling would be provided in a small group and would begin on October 1, 2000. The counseling would address Student’s anger management and social skills and “Stop/Think/Act” skills to address problem solving skills. (P-39)
8. Mother testified that Student was subjected to bullying, taunting, and teasing in the sixth grade (2000-2001) as he had been during his fifth grade year at the Downey School. She stated that Student came home with bruises at times. Additionally, he soiled himself five or six times and Mother had to bring him clean clothes and clean him. During this time, Student was anxious and afraid all the time at school and crying at home. He had toiletting accidents, nightmares, and “meltdowns” at home. He told his parents, “I can’t take it anymore.” Mother later learned that Student had thought about suicide. (Mother, Father) Mother recounted that Student had been slapped across the face by another student, had an ice ball thrown at him, had been pushed to the ground more than once, and had been kicked and punched. He was harassed while in the bathroom and a student kicked him and swore at him. A student taped a “kick me” sign to his back and a student kicked him. He was physically assaulted while going to the bus. Mother called, wrote and spoke to school staff during the year. Mother reported that Student was anxious and afraid all the time at school. By the end of his sixth grade year, Student required an escort everywhere in the building. Even when he was assigned an escort, he continued to be assaulted by other students. Toward the end of the year, Mother decided that the school could not keep Student safe and after receiving a phone call from “Ms. Mason” describing another assaultive incident, decided to keep Student home for the rest of the year. The principal telephoned Mother and asked that the Student finish the year and attend graduation and promised he would be assigned a specific aide and would leave class five minutes early. Student went to graduation and was very anxious. He went to the nurse’s office and “spit up” a few times and would not stay at school. He did not remain in school until the end of the year. (Mother)
9. Student’s father (Father) testified that Student has high mechanical aptitude and creative ability. He stated that Student can hear a song and go to the piano and learn it by ear. Student feels good about his musical ability. He stated that Student has weaknesses in his social abilities. He stated that Parents have tried to involve him in social programs and the results have been “sad with little good outcomes.” He stated that when Student does not fit in socially, he makes silly noises or does silly things and gets in trouble. He described how Student participated in a special needs basketball league that he enjoyed for a couple of years. However, he stated that Student was functioning at a higher level than the other students and became frustrated by “wanting to do what normal kids did.” He attended a Halloween dance party at Downey in a costume and attempted to approach a peer. The peer told him he was a loser and it took Parents hours to get Student to come out of a corner. Father described another incident at a skating party when Student said “hi” to a student and asked to play. The other Student refused and later kept trying to knock Student down. Father recounted that during Student’s sixth grade Student would wake him in the middle of the night and tell him he was scared and ask to lay with him. He would tell Father that something happened at school. Student began to lift weights and told Father he wanted to build muscles to protect himself. He would try to set “booby traps for his enemies.” Student would not want to go to school and would make excuses to stay home. He would make up ailments and say that nobody liked him. He also complained that he had no friends. He stated that his goals for Student were to graduate from high school, be happy, be well liked and be able to be on his own. He wants Student to enjoy life and not be in fear. (Father)
10. Mr. Cerce testified that he is a certified school adjustment counselor and social worker and he holds a Master’s in education and a C.A.G.S. He provided social skills programs at the D’Angelo when Student was in sixth grade and provided counseling to Student for thirty minutes per week. During his sessions he worked on social skills such as introducing yourself, initiating interaction, interacting in a group and how to respond to teasing. He used social stories and role play. He testified that Student experienced anxiety as a result of peer issues, MCAS, family issues and other typical reasons. (Cerce)
He stated that he was aware of incidents during sixth grade such as student being called names, being ignored, being assertive and other students putting a kick me sign on Student. He described an incident in which another student told Student to pull a shower chain and Student did so and got in trouble. He testified that he was aware of another student throwing a snowball at Student, someone verbally assaulting Student in the bathroom and Student claiming the other student had put his head in the toilet. He testified that sometimes Student made noises or interrupted others or his inappropriate behavior instigated others. Mr. Cerce testified that he worked with staff regarding ways to help Student interact more appropriately and how to deal with people who tease. He did not think Student made progress in social skills. He stated that Student’s general anxiety and social skills issues made the year difficult for him. He reported that he spoke to the administration and special education staff and they thought Dr. Putnam should come in and evaluate whether Student required more intense services. Mr. Cerce recalled that Mother had expressed concern that Student was visiting the nurse excessively during the sixth grade. He believed some of the visits were for medical concerns and some were because of anxiety. He concluded that Student’s ability to interact with his external environment and his peers leads peers to react negatively to him. Mr. Cerce did not view Student as aggressive, but he got into others’ personal space and sometimes his verbalizations made others angry. (Cerce)
11. Mr. Cerce testified that he recently became the autism specialist for Brockton. His responsibilities will include developing wrap-around services for families and providers, coordinating services with EJHS, providing after school services, providing behavior support and social skills services and he will consult with Dr. Putnam and his staff. (Cerce)
12. During a Team meeting in April 2001, Mother presented a letter in which she requested that Student be placed at the North River Collaborative. She cited the “emotional, physical, and verbal abuse” Student had experienced at school during the past two years. She reported the anxiety Student experienced due to the “abuse” at school and described his nightmares, fear of going to school, toiletting accidents both in and out of school, fear of attending events outside of school and fear of new social situations. She expressed her concern that the social and academic gaps between Student and other middle school students had widened. (P-34)
13. On April 26, 2001, Parents sent a letter to Agnes Peckham, Team Facilitator objecting to Brockton’s proposed extended evaluation of the Student. Parents again requested that Student be placed at the North River Collaborative. They assented to Brockton conducting a functional behavioral assessment because one had not been previously conducted. Additionally, Parents stated that Student had been recently diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome by his neurologist, Peter Rafalli, M.D. (P-35) Mother signed an evaluation consent form on April 27, 2001, assenting to the proposed functional behavioral assessment, but rejecting the proposed educational assessment, observation, and psychological assessment because Parents felt there was sufficient current information to determine Student’s needs. (P-36, Mother) On May 16, 2001, Mother signed releases for Brockton personnel to communicate by telephone with Christer Larsson, Psy.D., and Peter Rafalli, M.D. (P-37)
14. Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D., testified that he holds a Ph.D. in special education and rehabilitation and is a licensed psychologist and health service provider. He explained that most of his work during the past thirty years has dealt with people with developmental disabilities. He has worked in private schools for students with Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD) for ten years and has provided mental health services for people with developmental disabilities. Currently, he is the vice-president of consultation and school support at the May Institute. He testified that he oversees school consultation services to about seventy five school districts in the area of developing effective services for people with PDD. Much of his work is in the area of training and developing services for individuals with PDD. He does a great deal of program evaluation. He explained that a lot of his work is in social skills assessment and development and how to measure the effects of social skills interventions. He also does a lot of work in developing behavior support plans and positive behavior supports. He has had a lot of training in anxiety disorders in individuals with developmental disabilities. He testified that he has written a number of articles and conducted research on effective positive behavior support strategies and recently published an article about effective social skills interventions. Additionally, he directs a nationally recognized clinical internship program for Ph.D. students in psychology that uses research-based and empirically based interventions and focuses on developing effective social skills interventions, and positive behavior support strategies. (Putnam)
Dr. Putnam testified that he has consulted with the Brockton Public Schools regarding program development for fourteen years and has assisted with training staff. He testified that he conducted a functional behavioral assessment (fba) of Student and reported his findings in his report dated June 13, 2001. (P-40) He expressed his concern that Student had been the recipient of inappropriate verbal comments and physical aggression by his peers and stated that his goal in assessing Student was to determine what was most problematic for the student in school and recommend how to make improvements. Dr. Putnam reviewed school records and asked Mother to provide him with documents. He conducted direct observations of Student and formal interviews with school staff and Mother. School personnel completed the Walker-McConnell Scales of Social Competence and School Adjustment which Dr. Putnam testified was used to provide information regarding teacher, peer, and self-related forms of social competence and school adjustment. Mother completed the Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised (SIB-R) which he testified would determine Student’s current level of functioning in adaptive behavior areas. (Putnam)
Student’s score on the Walker-McConnell indicated that his general social skill competency was significantly below average. An item analysis was conducted to determine Student’s relative strengths and weaknesses as rated by his teachers and a list of his strengths and skill deficits was generated. (P-40, Putnam) His SIB-R results indicated that Student’s skills fell between the limited and very limited ranges and were particularly weak in the areas of personal living and socialization/communication. Overall, Dr. Putnam testified that Student scored at the first percentile which indicates he has semantic and social skills deficits and needs intensive work. With respect to Student’s adaptive behavior skills, Student had “pretty significant adaptive behavior deficits.” Dr. Putnam testified that Mother told him that she could not even let Student out in his back yard because he did not have sufficient social skills to succeed by himself. (P-40, Putnam)
Dr. Putnam observed Student in the classroom, during a transition to lunch, at lunch, and on the playground. He interviewed school staff who reported their concern about Student’s social skills and his difficulty interacting with peers. During his interview with Mother she reported she was most concerned about Student’s problematic interactions with students at school. She told Dr. Putnam Student has no friends and has limited activity of daily living skills (hereafter, ADLs). Dr. Putnam requested that school staff and Mother provide him with a list of incidents involving Student during the current school year. He concluded that Student has significant social skills deficits which have resulted in other students targeting him with physical aggression and negative verbal interactions. He concluded that the antecedents for the negative interactions seemed to be less structured and transition activities. He found Student’s adaptive behavior skills to be at a 4 to 5 year old level. He testified that Student has the most difficulty in socialization and personal living skills. (Putnam)
Dr. Putnam recommended that Student be provided a behavior support system to increase appropriate social skills behaviors. He described a holistic plan to increase successful interactions in a variety of settings. Dr. Putnam made some recommendations “to improve [Student’s] skill acquisition and his overall functioning in school and at home.” He recommended that Student’s “program reduce those problematic situations that have resulted in [Student] being aggressed against or experience[ing] negative social interactions by either structuring the activity for [Student] or more closely supervising the activity.” He recommended an intensive social skills program using an empirically validated social skills curriculum with daily direct instruction on the skills that the Team identifies as being the most important for Student. Dr. Putnam recommended that Student learn self management skills to manage his own behavior and recommended that Student be taught to determine whether he has met behavior expectations and to explore perspective taking and ask Student why a person responded as they did. He recommended providing Student with active training in relaxation techniques and explained that Student was very impulsive. He stated that Student has been successful with the stop/think/act program and opined that if they could get him to relax as well it would improve his functioning. He noted that it would be important for Student to have opportunities to interact with typically developing peers in situations where he can succeed and recommended that Student be provided typical peers at his age level as models. He testified that research shows that students with PDD should be involved with typical peers with appropriate social skills. He stated that it is difficult not to have models to learn social skills and difficult to run a group with all students with social skills difficulties. Additionally, Dr. Putnam recommended that Student be provided interventions to assist him in developing his adaptive behavior skills. He explained that it would be important to complete an updated SIB-R to determine his skill levels at school and to ascertain whether Student needs to learn skills or whether they need to be generalized from the school setting to home. He recommended that Student’s IEP reflect his most significant skill areas to improve his functioning at school, home, and in the community and stated that discrete data should be taken, graphed and reviewed regularly to assess Student’s progress. Finally, Dr. Putnam recommended a monthly meeting with Parents to review Student’s progress and assist in generalizing the skills Student learns in school. He stated that school staff would want to receive Parents’ feedback so they could target areas that would make the most difference in Student’s life and education. He stated that the staff would complete adaptive behavior scales to see what Student’s behaviors are like at school. He also recommended consultation with the Parents to improve his functioning at home. (P-40, S-G, Putnam)
Dr. Putnam completed a Social Skills Rating Scale (SSRS) of Student and reported his results in an August 15, 2001 report. He testified that he uses norm referenced social skills assessments that are normed on regular education students which makes the percentiles invalid. He explained it is preferable for a regular education teacher to complete the scales, as was done in assessing Student. He testified that using the social skills assessments school staff members are able to determine the extent of Student’s social skills deficits and determine areas of strength. He stated that staff would chart the Student’s progress and could determine whether progress was being made. If they did not see progress, they would determine whether they need to change the intensity of the interventions. There are 43 items on the elementary social skills scale and the staff rank orders them from the lowest to the highest and from the ten lowest items they determine which are the most important for the Student to learn. They then ask the Parents what items they think are the most important social skills for the Student to learn and the items they come up with become Student’s IEP objectives. He testified that social skills are a significant issue for students with PDD. (S-H)
An IEP was proposed after a Team meeting on June 15, 2001. It described Student’s strengths as appropriately answering teacher’s questions, appropriately using free time and appropriately expressing anger. His weaknesses were described as his ability to play with or talk to peers and being sensitive to others’ feelings. The IEP noted Student’s ability to show acceptable behavior in class in contrast to his “poor social interaction skills in unstructured situations.” It indicated that Student needed to improve in social skills and functional skills including directly taught and practiced social situations. It also noted his life skills were at an age 4.5 level and he had a weakness in personal living skills. His reading level was listed as grade 6.9, language was grade 5.0, and his mathematics grade level was 4.4. Proposed accommodations included a fidget box, visual cues, and use of Stop-Think-Act. The IEP proposed consultation by the speech language pathologist, an OT/ADL consultation, and a social skills consultation. It proposed academic inclusion for 1.5 hours per day. It also included a substantially separate component for math and social skills, 5 x .75 hours per week and 5 x .5 hours per week respectively. It proposed social/ADLs 10 x .75 hours per week and occupational therapy 2 x .5 hours per week. It proposed individual speech and language 1 x .5 hours per week and group speech and language 1 x .5 hours per week. Finally, it proposed adaptive physical education 1 x .5 hours per week. The IEP did not call for a summer program. The additional information portion of the IEP stated that student would be in both an inclusion and a life skills program at the EJHS. His social skills and ADLs would be addressed for 2.5 periods daily and there would be a community-based component to his program. There was to be a home component for two hours per week to address personal living skills and ADLs, and the direct service providers would meet with Parents once per month to review progress. (P-52)
15. On July 9, 2001, Parents rejected the IEP proposed for the 2001-2002 school year. (P-52; S-E, Mother) Mother testified that she and Father had visited the EJHS program and felt it was not appropriate. They were concerned because it contained an inclusion component, the schedule was fragmented and there were a number of transitions during the day. Counseling was not on the IEP. Mother reported that Student attended Camp Bunker Hill during that summer as he had the previous summer. She stated that he had formed friendships and was not anxious about attending camp. (Mother)
16. Dr. Putnam testified that he was involved in developing the EJHS program. He stated that the students in the program have diagnoses of Aspergers, high functioning autism, and PDD. It is a mostly segregated program, but some students go to the mainstream. The program was designed specifically for students with deficits in social interactions, social skills, pragmatic communications, and difficulties with transitions and change. The students in the program range in age from 13 to 15 years old. (Putnam) There is an emphasis on social skills, which is addressed three periods per day. Students have direct social skills training first period every day. (Putnam, Churchill) Part of the social skills component of the program involves teaching students ways to cope with the environment. He has done a lot of work with relaxation skills. The staff tries to teach students self-management skills and tries to teach students with anxiety issues ways to measurably reduce their stress and anxiety. One student in the program uses a relaxation tape to reduce her state of anxiety, which he explained is a systematic desensitization method. The program also focuses on students’ adaptive behavior skills which Dr. Putnam described as social interactional and expressive and receptive language, ADLs, community skills like time and money. They use a scale to assess students’ skills and to determine goals and objectives based upon what parents, staff and the student deem most important for students to learn. (Putnam)
17. The EJHS staff monitor student progress and keep data with respect to each student’s progress. (See S-P) For each IEP objective they have a progress monitoring system and they can track whether a student is making progress. Dr. Putnam testified that research shows that programs that track information precisely generate 30% more achievement relative to the students than those programs that do not. Dr. Putnam testified that if a child is not making progress, the staff can quickly make some changes in the interventions. (Putnam)
18. Dr. Putnam testified that he believed that the IEP proposed for Student for the 2001-2002 school year was appropriate. His recommendations made pursuant to the fba were included. There was a direct intensive social skills training component. The goals and objectives were geared toward teaching Student to be able to function more appropriately. The goals were measurable and had clear benchmarks. ADLs were addressed as were academic skills and speech and pragmatics skills. Although the IEP had an inclusion component, Dr. Putnam testified that Student would not have had to immediately be included upon re-entering Brockton Public Schools and stated that the inclusion component would have been very structured. (Putnam)
19. Mother testified that Student did not attend school during the 2001-2002 school year. She stated that his anxiety and fear were so high that he was medically unable to attend. Additionally, he had surgery in February 2002. (Mother) Lowell E. Fox, Student’s primary care pediatrician wrote a letter addressed to “To Whom This May Concern” dated September 12, 2001. The letter stated that he was ordering Student to remain at home and not attend school for medical reasons for “at least a two week period.” He wrote a similarly addressed letter dated October 23, 2001 which indicated he had been asked to provide greater specificity of the medical reasons for his order. He wrote that Student had informed him and his treating therapists of continual teasing and physical abuse by students in school and Student’s anxiety about going to school has increased. He stated that he was continuing his order that Student remain at home and not attend school for medical reasons. In a medical record dated 5/30/02, Dr. Lowell noted “no contact sports; serious concerns about safety and anxiety.” (P-42) Mother testified that Student remained anxious to varying degrees while he was not attending school. She described an incident which occurred while she and Student were shopping at a store. Student saw a student from the Angelo School who had previously hurt him a considerable distance away from him. Student wet his pants. Mother also described a fantasy world that Student had created while he was at home. She testified that Student had an imaginary business and friends in the basement and he got upset when she called him to come upstairs. He had a toy cell phone and shouted orders downstairs. He knew it was a fantasy world, but told Mother that in his world nobody hits him and he is safe. (Mother)
20. Dr. Putnam testified that he reviewed Dr. Lasoski’s reports. He noted that they disagreed about Student’s ability to learn by watching typically developing peers. Dr. Putnam believes that Student can model behavior if there is sufficient structure provided to him. He agreed that Student does not have good perspective taking skills. He and Dr. Lasoski also disagreed as to whether Student’s peers need to be at a similar level pragmatically, but higher functioning cognitively. He testified that Student would be in the middle of the EJHS group in terms of social skills and cognitive functioning. He also noted that Dr. Lasoski had not seen the EJHS program at the time she wrote her report, but she had deemed it inappropriate for the Student. He addressed Dr. Lasoski’s concern that the EJHS program’s ADL’s component would not take into account Student’s sensory integration issues by explaining the program’s use of functional assessment. He explained they would assess whether Student knows a skill or whether he is having motor planning difficulty or a sensory difficulty and provide services accordingly. Dr. Putnam testified that Student requires direct instruction that will be interesting to him and take into account his sensory issues. He acknowledged Student’s anxiety relating to returning to school and testified that there is co-morbidity between PDD and anxiety about a number of things. (Putnam)
21. Dr. Putnam testified that during the 2001-2002 school year there were three students in the program ages 13-15.5. This year there are five students, and if Student were to attend there would be six students. Currently there is a special needs teacher a paraprofessional and a monitor teaching assistant. If Student were to attend, there would be an additional monitor teaching assistant4 . Student has an I.Q. of 84-86; a female in the program has an I.Q. of 90-110; and another Student has an I.Q. of 77. One student is non-verbal and has a non-verbal I.Q. of 90. Two other students have IQs in the high 60s. All students have Walker McConnell scores similar to Student’s in social skills. The adaptive behavior skills range from 4.5 years (like Student’s and one other student’s) to 10 years in terms of functional skills. All the students have issues in pragmatic communication and social skills deficits. None has challenging behavior. One student groans when she is distressed and states that she needs a break or she needs her relaxation tape. She does not scream. Once a week she expresses herself in that manner. Another student will say that he needs to take a walk, another student says relaxation and gets the mat and uses his tape. Another student takes a walk to the nurse’s office. Many of the students in the classroom have anxiety issues. Breaks are provided as needed, they are not scheduled. Two students have an auditory timer to alert them that it is time to either stop working on the computer or get back to work. The timer makes a beeping sound and is not loud. One student has a visual timer on his desk. The program runs from Monday through Friday 180 days per year from 7:30 a.m. until 2:10 or 2:45 p.m. (Putnam, Churchill)
22. Lee Churchill testified that she is a permanent substitute teacher in the Brockton Public Schools. She has been the teacher of the PDD program at EJHS since 2001. (S-Q ) She is not yet certified, but is awaiting the results of her certification test, which are due in December 20025 . (Churchill, Malonson) She testified that she has not met the Student, but has reviewed documentation pertaining to his needs and understands them. She described the schedule that Student would follow if he attended the EJHS program and referenced a written daily schedule she prepared with her mentor. (S-B)
23. She described the program as currently scheduled and how it would proceed if Student transitioned into it. The social skills program, which is first period every day, consists of five students from her program, one from the inclusion program, and three model students. The next period is either ADLs, OT, or math, depending on the day. When the ADLs class is in the morning, students work on washing their face, washing their hands, and brushing their teeth. If students have ADLs in the afternoon, they work on skills such as cleaning the cafeteria and learning about why it is necessary to clean. Student would miss second period twice per week to attend adaptive physical education and he could make up his math work later in the day.
During the job skills period Ms. Churchill and the staff talk to the students about different jobs they will perform in the school building6 . Ms. Churchill explained that the jobs advance students’ pragmatics skills because students must ask for directions and follow them when they are working on photocopying for a teacher. Also, if they have to ask a teacher if she/he needs any work done, they must enter the classroom and ask appropriately. While working in the office, students learn that they cannot interrupt others’ conversations unless they do so in an appropriate manner. Students are monitored by staff while performing their jobs and they work on staying on task and completing a task before moving on to another. Student would have math Monday, Wednesday and Friday and it would consist of whole group lessons and individualized lessons on the computer. Science and math are both covered during the same time period. Student would receive APE on Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 –10:30 a.m.
Student would participate daily in a Reading/English class taught by Ms. Churchill to the higher level students from the three substantially separate classrooms. Ms. Churchill testified that she uses the seventh grade curriculum and modifies the work from the regular education classes. She stated that Student would be a good match for her other students whose decoding levels are also at higher levels than their comprehension level. She testified that she modifies the comprehension questions to each student’s ability level. She described the lunch bunch in which Student would participate as taking place inside or outside the cafeteria with 2 regular education students, Student, and his paraprofessional. They would work on manners, role-playing, communication games, and maintaining eye contact. Student would receive academic support from his 1:1 paraprofessional each afternoon and could receive the math instruction he had missed on days he has APE. His academic support class would also focus on reading comprehension strategies, organization skills, getting his homework book in order and providing assistance with any other class in which he required assistance. The staff assesses student progress by tracking data pertaining to Student’s IEP goals. The schedule has changed somewhat during the time the program has been proposed for Student, but it is generally similar in terms of the social skills, the ADLs and the community skills. (Churchill)
Students in the PDD program participate in various recreational activities during the year including bowling, miniature golf, and iceskating. They work on community skills, social skills, math (students graph the bowling results). They go out to lunch and work on reading menus, communication skills, ordering, and money skills. (Churchill, S-B)
Ms. Churchill testified that she is aware that Student has difficulty with transitions. She uses a visual schedule to prepare students for any change in their schedules. Additionally, she stated she would review with the Student any change to the schedule that would occur the previous day to help him to prepare. She reported that the students in the class do not have significant difficulty following their schedules. She testified that Student would not be required to walk in the corridors with regular education students. He could walk through the substantially separate classrooms or could walk in the halls when other students are not in the hallways. She testified that she reviewed Dr. Lasoski’s report and does not believe Student requires a phonics based reading program7 . She also disagreed with Dr. Lasoski’s opinion that she does not require the students to think at a higher level. (Churchill)
24. Marc Abbott testified that he is a Master’s level occupational therapist and he currently works with 6-10 students with PDD in the EJHS. He explained that his prior experience included completing an internship at the South Shore Collaborative SI clinic serving students with PDD; working in a sensory integration gym with suspended equipment; and working with high functioning PDD students in the Pilgrim Area Collaborative. He testified that he worked with Student twice at his home as part of the plan to transition the Student back to the Brockton Public Schools. He observed Student’s tactile issues and found he has a low threshold for tactile input. He explained this leads to disorganization of his sensory system. He also reported Student has a low threshold for rotary input (spinning) and a low threshold for auditory input. He testified that Student has a fidget box and takes movement breaks. He testified that Student continues to need maturity of his sensory integration system to modulate at his optimal level. Mr. Abbott determined that Student would need a sensory diet, movement breaks, deep pressure, and suspended equipment at the EJHS. (Abbott)
Mr. Abbott testified that on Tuesdays and Thursdays he and another staff member bring four students into the community. They practice skills such as bus and street safety and having correct change. They go shopping and each Student carries two bags on the way back which he explained helps improve their body awareness. On Thursdays they go to a restaurant. They practice hand washing and they walk back to school and practice street crossing. The bus ride is a calming activity and the walking is “heavy work.” They practice motor planning at the restaurant and they carry a tray. Mr. Abbott testified that he has all of the necessary equipment to provide Student’s services and he brings the equipment to the EJHS program as needed. He agrees with the recommendation that Student have a quiet room available and there is one at EJHS. He testified that he is not concerned that Student would become motion sick on the bus. He is not aware of Student having motion sickness issues and he would expose him to the bus anyway to de-sensitize him. (Abbott)
25. Dorothy Milligan testified that she has her Master’s degree, is licensed in speech language pathology, and is a Massachusetts certified speech/language/hearing disorder teacher. She has primarily worked with students in lifeskills programs and PDD classes. She is in the classroom of the EJHS program every Friday for a speech language lesson which is either content based or a social skills lesson. There are six students in the class and three general education model students. On Tuesdays she brings students to the grocery store to purchase food and another group cooks. The groups get together and eat and work on pragmatic skills. While shopping the students work on following directions. Students are assigned to push the cart, locate items, work on comparing prices and ask questions when they cannot locate an item. On Thursdays she and Mr. Abbott bring the students to a restaurant where they work on interacting with people who work there. Students work on setting tables, cleaning up, community skills building, job responsibilities, work independence, and social interactions. (Milligan, S-B)
Ms. Milligan testified that she met Student on November 8, 2002, when she went to his home to provide services as part of the proposed transition to EJHS. She showed Student three activities and allowed him to decide what he would do first. Student did not want to complete the activities and he negotiated with her and chose four of eight activities he wanted to do. They played a card game in which Student was able to ask questions to get what he wanted. (Milligan)
Ms. Milligan testified that she would place Student’s communication skills in the middle of the class at EJHS. She explained that the EJHS program focuses on perspective taking and having regular education models in the classroom provides the opportunity to focus on other students and draw conclusions about how someone reacts to what is going on. She stated that perspective taking instruction occurs in the community activities as well where there is a 2:1 ratio of students to staff. Ms. Milligan believes the EJHS program can meet the Student’s needs. She testified that the students in the program do not eat in the cafeteria, but in an adjoining room. They work on pragmatics during lunch. (Milligan)
26. Sandra Tramontano, MS, OTR/L, wrote an Occupational Therapy Progress Note, dated June 2002 reporting upon home occupational therapy services. She reported that services began in December with upper body/gross motor activities and the activities “needed to end” due to medical concerns surrounding Student’s oral/jaw surgery. Ms. Tramontano reported that the primary concerns included “postural control, hand skill development, visual-motor/visual perceptual skills, sensory processing, and activities of daily living (cutting with a knife and fork).” She reported that Student required frequent movement breaks and appeared more focused to task when a fine motor activity could be combined with a movement activity. He tolerated approximately 10 minutes of cursive work each week and his cursive skills improved. He also demonstrated strength in creativity and imagination. (P-47)
27. Christer Larsson, Psy.D., testified that he received his doctorate in psychology in 1997 and was licensed in Massachusetts in 1998. Student began seeing him in March 2001 for individual therapy and a social group. (Larsson, Mother) He testified that Student presented with impulse control difficulty, social skills deficits, a high level of anxiety and fearfulness, and poor ability for social interactions which frequently resulted in Student becoming a target of his peers’ anger. Student participated in an activity-based boys’ social skills group once per week from September 2000 until June 20018 . Dr. Larsson described the group as highly verbal regular education students who were there to learn social and anger management skills. He described Student as very active and very eager to play the games, however, Student required practice reading social nuances and would get in other boys’ faces and joke in ways that others felt offensive. Student did not understand what he was doing wrong. Dr. Larsson testified that Student had difficulty fitting in to the group and he often upset and annoyed some other boys who then gave Student harsh feedback which puzzled and hurt Student. He reported that Student had made limited progress during group therapy which was “only in a limited way due to an increased ability on [Student]’s part to more adaptively deal with his peers.” (P-50, Larsson) At times other boys got very upset with Student and Dr. Larsson believed there was an issue of Student’s safety and he and Parents decided Student would leave the group. Dr. Larsson recommended that Student receive social skills training in a group of socially motivated students who are verbally fluent and cognitively well matched to him. (Larsson)
Dr. Larsson described the focus of Student’s individual therapy to be on Student’s high level of fear and anxiety. He testified that Student did not want to talk about the teasing and bullying he had experienced, but he did sometimes open up to him. He stated that Student’s most persistent fear and anxiety was around school. Student reported his “intense fears and anxieties of being threatened and hurt by his peers at school.” Dr. Larsson found that despite Student’s feeling socially isolated while not attending school, he was relieved by not having to attend Brockton Public Schools and seemed to “feel much better about himself.” He stated that Student needed the help and support that comes with clear structure and expectations as well as frequent one-on-one adult support and supervision. He testified that the safer the Student feels and the more structure he receives, the better he does.
Dr. Larsson testified that Student had recently begun duo therapy with a child 2-3 years younger than he who was diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers and had social skills deficits and anger management issues. Student and the other student could talk to each other for fifty minutes. He thinks that the Student has been less anxious during the past year with the duo therapy. He has been looking more relaxed. (P-50; Larsson)
28. In a Clinical Treatment Update dated November 13, 2002, Dr. Larsson reported that Student continued to exhibit troublesome behaviors relating to social and cognitive functioning, self-care, safety, reality testing and overall coping skills. He reported that Student had climbed out the office window onto the roof twice. He also reported that Student had become more likely to fight back physically in response to peer abuse than he had previously been. He found that these two factors placed him at risk for unsafe behaviors. He also reported concern at Student’s increasing desire to engage in fantasy play by himself in the basement of his home. He believed Student’s fantasy play was Student’s “way of compensating for a real world that is quite disappointing and frustrating to him.” Dr. Larsson believed that social isolation lead Student to create the fantasy world. He reported that Student could not see anything positive about returning to school because for him school had become “a place where he is rejected, persecuted and constantly fearful.” He concluded that Student is “in desperate need of social belonging…and needs a safe and supportive social environment.” He recommended that Student be in a school environment that provides individualized and small group instruction, with developmentally appropriate peers, few transitions and solid psychological/therapeutic resources. (P-50) Dr. Larsson testified that he was aware of Student’s “fantasy world” in his basement and that Student had not wanted to talk about it. He believes Student can distinguish it from reality. He testified that he initially recommended that Student be kept at home due to safety concerns. He had not wanted the student to remain out of school for so long. Student told him he did not want to go back to school ever. However, after Student visited the Pathways program, he wanted to go there. (Larsson)
29. Deborah Corvini testified that she tutored the Student in academic subjects at home during the 2001-2002 school year beginning in November. She had a good rapport with Student and Mother9 . She tutored him in math, science, social studies, and English. She gave Student grades for his academic subjects and testified that his grades were based upon how well he performed on what they were doing. Student was able to do simple algebraic problems by the end of their tutoring. He was still anxious about math, but he made progress. (See P-49) She wrote an undated report regarding her tutoring of Student in which she noted that Student had a great deal of difficulty in math and was “math phobic.” She testified that she discussed options for alleviating Student’s anxiety in math including using a math facts chart, and using a calculator. Student did not want to use a facts chart and neither Mother nor Student wanted him to use a calculator. She tried to give him clues for remembering some multiplication tables, but Student felt that he wanted to learn the math tables on his own. She reported that Student tends to worry about everything and becomes “stuck” and unable to concentrate on other things once he has a worry. (P-49) She stated that she could refocus him and they could move on when this occurred. She stated that Student was very kind and had a wonderful sense of humor and they had a very close relationship. She testified that Student worked and tried very hard, enjoyed hands-on activities, and was a pleasure to teach. Ms. Corvini testified that she tutored Student approximately 30 times for approximately 1.5 hours each time. She never tutored him for four hours per week10 . (Corvini)
30. Student was evaluated by Peg Ingolia, MS, OTRL on June 13, 2002. Ms. Ingolia noted that he became anxious at times during the evaluation. She reported that he demonstrated difficulties in the modulation of sensory information and is distracted by visual and auditory stimuli in his surroundings and defensive to tactile and auditory information. Mother informed her that Student requires assistance in showering and tooth brushing because of his sensitivity to the sensations involved and negative reactions to touching shampoo or soap. She reported that Student has a fidget box to use periodically throughout the day and in times of stress or high demand to “help maintain a comfortable and organized state of arousal.” Ms. Ingolia recommended that Student use “desensitizing activities before activities of daily living to help decrease his tactile defensiveness to showers, soap, and shampoo.” She reported that Student has difficulty manipulating small items and eating utensils. She recommended that Student be allowed to engage in movement activities throughout the day, in order to provide calming and organizing deep pressure and movement input. She found Student’s motor skills to be weak for his age in terms of postural stability. Ms. Ingolia recommended that Student receive OT services from a therapist experienced in working with students with sensory processing delays. She recommended that the O.T. provide consulting services regarding sensory diet and environmental adaptations and recommended a Therapeutic Listening home program and a trial period of “craniosacral therapy.” She also recommended that Student engage in “proprioception and movement based activities periodically throughout his days” including walking around the building, jogging in the gym, doing “chair push ups” or using fidget objects. She felt that Student’s difficulty with ADLs was due to “difficulty with touch sensations” rather than lack of understanding of the tasks. Finally, she recommended describing what would happen before it happens as a way of dealing with Student’s praxis difficulties. (P-51)
31. Mother testified that the Team convened in June 2002 and the home tutoring reports were discussed. Student’s social difficulties were discussed at length. Dr. Putnam recommended intensive direct services. The EJHS program was discussed as being substantially separate with the opportunity for inclusion and focusing on pragmatics and social issues. Parents stated that they wanted Student to attend Camp Bunker Hill and the Team facilitator described Brockton’s summer program. The IEP proposed the Brockton program. (Mother)
32. Louise Andrews testified that she is a team facilitator for the Brockton Public Schools. She attended the June 2002 Team meeting and recalled Mother discussing Student’s generalized anxiety and his prior experiences in the Brockton Public Schools. Ms. Andrews testified that Mother questioned Student’s grades and asked whether Student was taught at grade level. The Team discussed placing Student in the seventh grade for the 2002-2003 school year because the program is a three year program and that would allow Student to remain in the program for an additional year. There was a transition plan in the proposed IEP to decrease Student’s anxiety about coming back to school11 . There was to be tutoring provided as part of the plan by staff members from EJHS. Mother asked staff not to tell Student they were from EJHS, because Dr. Larsson had told her that would be upsetting for Student until a decision was made about where he would attend school. Student had not previously attended EJHS and not all Students from the Angelo school go to EJHS. There was discussion of Student’s issues around anxiety and his pragmatic deficits and social skills deficits. The Team considered all of the areas that were raised in the reports and addressed each area in the IEP. (Andrews, P-54)
33. Anne Marie Lasoski, Psy.D., testified that she has been a neuropsychologist since 1993, was licensed as a psychologist and health service provider in 1996, and has received post-doctoral training in neuropsychology. She stated that since 1995, approximately 20 of 100-130 of her patients per year fall within the autism spectrum. She does not design programs for students with autism. She has not consulted regarding the development of autism programs, nor has she done research regarding autism. (Lasoski) Dr. Lasoski testified that her behavioral experience with autistic children consisted of two terms as a graduate student. (Lasoski)
Dr. Lasoski completed a neuropsychological evaluation of the Student on May 16, June 14, and July 19, 200212 . She spent approximately 10 hours with Student during the testing, some of that time was spent talking to Mother. She was struck by the difference between Student’s cognitive ability and his pragmatics ability. She stated that Student seemed younger than she would have expected. She testified that he is not always aware of where other people are and he nearly ran somebody down trying to get into the elevator in her office building. She noted Student’s difficulty transitioning from test to test. She provided the Student with frequent breaks and significant redirection. She assessed Student’s cognitive functioning with the WISC-III and obtained a verbal score of 84, a performance score of 91, and a full scale score of 86. She noted that Student’s verbal scores clustered in the borderline to low average range and only the information subtest fell within the average range. She reported Student’s performance IQ fell in the “very lower end of the Average Range.” She noted that in a structured 1:1 setting with no distraction Student was able to regulate his attention. Dr. Lasoski assessed Student’s academic functioning with the Woodcock Johnson-III. She noted his reading rate was very slow, but accuracy and reading comprehension were in the average range. She testified that she recommended that Student receive language based learning interventions because “students with his profile often have difficulty with language and social reciprocity”. (Lasoski)
Dr. Lasoski reported that Student had “significant difficulty with basic and higher level attentional processes, limited cognitive flexibility… inefficiency in working memory, difficulty with preplanning and organizational skills, inhibition of impulsive responding, emotional self-regulation, and self-monitoring.” She testified that Student is not able to learn by watching peer models in an inclusion setting. She stated he would require trained staff to “teach, redirect, and rehearse skills in both structured and unstructured settings.” She recommended Student be placed in a therapeutic milieu with an appropriate peer group and trained staff. She did not think he could be placed at the EJHS program even though he was in a substantially separate program because she stated that the program had an inclusion component. She recommended that he be in a self-contained classroom with a great deal of structure and academic support and speech and language and pragmatics assistance. She stated that Student is not psychologically able to return to a program similar to the one he previously attended. Her report indicated that she had not visited the proposed program prior to writing her report. Her report indicated that the program did not appear to be appropriate. She disagreed with EJHS’ focus on ADLs because the occupational therapy evaluation reported Student’s difficulty with ADLs stemmed from sensory issues. She recommended that Student be placed in a structured self-contained classroom and receive academic support in math and reading speed and additional time as a testing accommodation. (S-I, Laskoski)
Dr. Lasoski testified that she did not evaluate Student in his school setting as Dr. Putnam did. She testified that she administered the Test of Problem Solving for Children to assess Student’s perspective taking ability. She stated that it is normed on regular education students and was not an ideal assessment. Student scored at the third percentile in perspective taking. Dr. Lasoski testified that she did not think it was appropriate for Dr. Putnam to use the Walker-McConnell scale to assess a non-regular education student. She testified that she was concerned that it did not assess perspective taking at the highest level. Additionally, she was concerned that the Student had been “in crisis” at the time the assessment was done and therefore the results would not show the Student’s baseline level of function. She had the same criticism for the use of the Social Skills Rating Scale. She agreed that Student’s anxiety is not only regarding school, but also around transitions, changes of schedule, and a general difficulty with flexibility. (Lasoski)
She is familiar with the behavior charting which is done at the EJHS and stated that the methodology is good for developing behaviors such as hand washing, but is simplistic for Student. Dr. Lasoski is aware Student did not attend school during the 2001-2002 school year. She testified that she thought Student stayed at home because he was having an acute traumatic reaction to a period of extensive harassment and abuse. Initially she viewed that time as a period of recovery for Student. (S-I, Lasoski)
34. The Team convened on September 30, 2002 and reviewed Dr. Lasoski’s report and the OTA report. (P-54) The IEP generated after the Team meeting proposed placement at the EJHS PDD/Autism program. It provided for accommodations including access to a sensory diet, frequent breaks, access to a quiet area and assistance with transitions. A home component was proposed to address ADLs for 2 hours per week. A fidget box was proposed as was use of the Stop, Think, Act program. There was to be a communication notebook with the home and data was to be tracked relative to Student’s progress. Specially designed instruction for sensory processing, therapeutic listening, and fine and gross motor skills were proposed. The IEP indicated that there would be a school adjustment counselor available as needed if Student became anxious. Also, a one-to-one aide was to be assigned to the Student and was to be available for after school programs. The service delivery grid contained consultation in the areas of speech and language, social skills, and O.T./A.D.L. 1 x 30 minutes per week each. Student was to be educated in a substantially separate classroom. He was to receive mathematics (5 x 1 hour/week), language arts (5 x 1.5 hours/week), social/ADLs (9 x 1 hour/week), OT (2 x .5 hour/week), speech (1 x .5 individually and 1 x .5 group/week), and APE (2 x .5/week). The Team recommended Student attend a summer academic/vocational program to be supplemented with additional social skills groups. The Team proposed a transition program to assist Student in returning to school. (P-54) Dr. Putnam testified that a Ph.D. level developmental psychologist has recently begun providing ongoing consultation to the EJHS program (Putnam).
35. Mother testified that Parents toured the EJHS program on October 17, 2002 and that she received schedules of Student’s proposed program, but never understood “how it worked.” (P-55) She testified that one of the female students she observed was difficult to understand. She found the lunch bunch to be noisy and the general population of students walked by the table during the lunch bunch. She observed APE and found the students to be lower functioning than Student. Parents rejected the IEP. (Mother)
36. Dr. Lasoski testified that when she observed at EJHS, she observed that one student was underaroused and not exhibiting much speech and another student was prone to be excitable. She stated that at EJHS the students were autistic, but at different cognitive levels which she found significant because it changes the level of pragmatics instruction. She stated that she was most concerned about the level of speech language services available in Brockton compared to Pathways. She stated that the pragmatics lesson she observed at Brockton was at a very low level. She found the lunch bunch at Brockton to be inappropriate for Student because there was not a speech language pathologist working with students and she did not see carry over throughout the day. She stated that there were no psychological services available at the Brockton program other than Dr. Putnam’s. She is concerned that the other students in the EJHS program are not fluent enough to be appropriate peers to Student. She stated that although there were peer models at the EJHS program, she did not observe them add anything to the discussion or modeling. She was also concerned that there was no separate curriculum for social studies and science. She testified that the proposed EJHS program would not provide sufficient opportunity for Student to practice verbal skills. She thinks that a speech language pathologist could develop more appropriate objectives for Student than Dr. Putnam established using the Walker-McConnell scale. (Lasoski) Dr. Putnam testified that the reason that hand washing was a goal on Student’s IEP was because Mother had stated at an IEP meeting that she would love for Student to be able to wash his hands independently. She was also concerned about his safety with a knife which is why the IEP contained an objective regarding knife safety. (Putnam)
37. Dr. Putnam testified that he observed the Pathways program December 16, 2002. He asked permission to observe an entire day, but was not allowed. Staff members asked him to leave at 11:45 a.m. and told him that observers were generally not allowed to observe lunch. He testified that other observers had been allowed to observe lunch. It was snowing on the day he observed and the staff was concerned about how students would react when they were told they would be leaving early and they did not want Dr. Putnam to see that. He testified that the staff’s desire for him to leave made him wonder how volatile the students were. Dr. Gold, the program director, informed Dr. Putnam that he needed to be aware of a student with significant anxiety and acting out behavior and he might have to leave if his presence upset the student. He testified that the Pathways program was based on the theory of mind model with a heavy emphasis on sensory integration. He testified that he found only one research study using the theory of mind and it was found not to improve social skills. He was told there was a social pragmatics group in the morning, language arts, math, lunch, science, social studies, OT, and sensory breaks after every period. The program had a full-time occupational therapist and speech language pathologist. He was told the staff does not do progress monitoring or track goals and benchmarks.
He observed the social pragmatics class and noted that the students did not interact with each other, it was more adult directed. The students took a break and Student played a computer game for about twenty minutes. He observed a language arts class in which students chose a statement from the board to write about. They wrote for 12 minutes and there was no interaction during the writing. They did some independent reading and wrote a paragraph and discussed it and then took a break. Student went to the computer and played a game. During math students did a worksheet and the teacher circulated and spent about two minutes with Student. After 20 minutes Student said he was done and was allowed to do whatever he wanted except the computer. Student drew for about 15 minutes and then the teacher came around and gave all the students stickers. Dr. Putnam stated that there was no reason for giving the students stickers, it was not behaviorally linked. (Putnam)
Dr. Putnam testified that he was asked to leave “with some urgency” before the staff told the students they would be dismissed early. Dr. Putnam testified that he was concerned with the population at Pathways. He overheard inappropriate social comments during language arts, a student sang inappropriate songs, and there were behavioral issues. Of a forty five minute class he noted that only 25 minutes consisted of direct instruction. He stated that he agrees that Student has sensory integration issues, but does not believe it should be the primary focus of his program and there is no research that shows that sensory integration works. He stated that there was no training in communication or direct instruction in adaptive behavioral skills at Pathways. He was concerned that if Student is allowed to take an SI break every time he shows frustration or agitation, that might reinforce the behavior. Dr. Putnam testified that by 9:45 a.m. of the day he observed, the staff had decided there would be an early dismissal and he overheard them deciding not to tell the students. Finally, he testified that the student with behavior difficulties he previously referenced was loudly defiant and participated in socially inappropriate behaviors. (Putnam)
38. The profiles of the students in the Pathways program are as follows. “Student 1” has a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. He is 14.5 years old and in ninth grade with college level reading ability and a good understanding of math concepts. His ability in the language domain is average to very high average. He is at or above grade level in all areas. His verbal IQ is 142 (very superior range); his performance I.Q. is 100 (average range) and his full scale IQ is 125 (superior range). His IEP states that behavior and behavioral control are among his areas of difficulty and on occasion he can become oppositional or engage in inappropriate behavior. “Student 2” is 13 years old and in the 8 th grade. He is diagnosed with PDD, seizure disorder and ADHD. His cognitive ability is well below average. He has difficulty with self-regulation which often results in outbursts of physical or verbal behavior. “Student 3” is 14.3 years old and diagnosed with ADHD, S.I. Disorder, PDD, and Asperger’s Syndrome. His verbal IQ is 112 (above average). He expresses frustration by using a loud voice and inappropriate language. He does not take into account where he is, who might be listening, or how loudly he is talking. (S-R)
39. Dr. Lasoski testified that she has visited the Pathways program twice, once during unstructured time for about 2.5 hours and once to observe the teaching for about 4.5 hours. She stated that Ms. Murgida told her that there were no students with behavior difficulties enrolled in Student’s program. She testified that the program is 4.5 days per week and is a 12 month program. Dr. Lasoski testified that Student needs to be placed with students who have approximately the same verbal IQ and they have to have speech output that is fluent and spontaneous. She testified that Ms. Murgida told her Student’s peer group would be homogeneous and they have average to above average IQs with fluent and spontaneous speech. She observed the Student at Pathways and wrote a report. (P-58) She testified that the teachers have either a Master’s in special education or a bachelors and teacher certification. There’s a developmental psychologist at Pathways. She observed the Pathways program to be geared toward students with high functioning autism. She testified that the Pathways program had breaks scheduled in to it. The pragmatics services were provided appropriately at Pathways. She stated that the speech language pathologist was available during the pragmatics lessons and a consultant comes to the school regarding social skills programs. She stated that Student had been enrolled since December 3, 2002. She was unclear about how Pathways measures student progress and stated that the staff was “a bit withholding” when she inquired. (Lasoski)
40. Marsha Stevens testified that she has been an educational consultant since 1978 and she has a Master’s degree in education. She testified that she helps evaluate student records, interprets evaluations, determines what issues need to be addressed and what placements can address them, and participates in the Team process. She stated that she has experience working with students with PDD and Aspergers, but she has had no training in those areas but has consulted with people with experience in autism. As part of her work with Student, Ms. Stevens stated that she reviewed hearing documents, interviewed the Student twice (totaling 3.5 hours), visited the Brockton Public Schools three times, visited Pathways once (for 1.5 hour), and spoke with personnel from both programs and with Student’s parents. Ms. Stevens testified that she visited the EJHS program in January 2002 to observe their PDD program. She observed a social skills class and testified that she did not “see any pragmatic language being developed or any social skills being developed” and saw little to no spontaneous language being used. She observed an ADLs lesson in handwashing. Ms. Stevens did not consider that a natural setting to practice the skill because the students were not preparing to eat. She testified that there were many transitions from one class to another and much walking from place to place. With respect to the students in the classroom, Ms. Stevens stated that one student used a communication device, one boy was quiet with very little verbal output and there was not much interaction. She concluded that the program was not appropriate for the Student. (Stevens)
Ms. Stevens visited the EJHS program again on October 28, 2002. She observed students playing a board game involving some math skills with a group of model students. She observed a lesson regarding ADLs relating to toothbrushing. She was concerned because there were words used that she believed students had not been exposed to before and because students did not brush their teeth after the lesson. She observed that some students used timers to track their behavior. She stated that the timers could be heard from the back of the room. Ms. Stevens testified that she observed that one student seemed to get overstimulated at times and have trouble communicating. (Stevens)
Ms. Stevens testified that she recommended the Pathways program to Student based upon her observations of the EJHS program and she observed the Pathways program after she recommended it. She visited the program on November 19, 2002 and was there for 1.5-2 hours. She testified that she spent her time at Pathways in the lunch room. She said the staff guided a conversation and she overheard students talking about values and perspective taking. She stated that pragmatics and speech language are embedded in the program, based upon overhearing that discussion. She did not observe any classes, but spoke to staff members who described the program. Ms. Stevens testified that Brockton’s proposed service delivery grid is not the problem, but the placement and peers make the EJHS program inappropriate for Student. Ms. Stevens testified that she did not know how Pathways assessed student progress, but later testified that they use the Vineland. She said the level of services proposed by Brockton is potentially appropriate. (Stevens)
41. Kathryn Kagan, a special education teacher at the Pathways Academy wrote a letter dated December 12, 2002. She indicated that Student exhibited ease and comfort at school during the two weeks he had been there. She stated that his desire to participate has been evident and he was a willing participant in class discussions. Socially, she reported that Student was able to form “early bonds” with peers. Student’s science teacher, Beth Ann D’Agnese, reported that Student appeared to be an enthusiastic learner and he had been able to participate in class discussions and assignments. She noted that Student has a witty sense of humor. Julia Tchoi reported that she was Student’s math and social studies teacher. She was impressed by his easy integration into school and noted his excitement to be in school. She stated that the students in Student’s learning group were on a similar academic level. She stated that Student was already forming friendships. (P-61)
FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS:
Student is an individual with a disability, falling within the purview of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)13 and the state special education statute.14 As such, he is entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Neither his status nor his entitlement is in dispute. Under the FAPE standard, the IEP proposed by the school district must offer the student a free appropriate public education that meets state educational standards. This education must be offered in the least restrictive environment appropriate to meet the student’s individual needs15 . Federal law also requires that the student be able to fully participate in the general curriculum to the maximum extent possible. 20 USC § 1415(d)(1)(A)(iii); 34 CFR 300.347(a)(2)(I) and (a)(3)(ii); 64 Fed. Reg. No. 48, page 12595, column 1; See also, In Re: Worcester Public Schools, BSEA # 00-1912, 6 MSER 194 (2000).
The Massachusetts statute defines FAPE as “special education and related services as consistent with the provisions set forth in 20 USC 1400 et seq., its accompanying regulations, and which meet the education standards established by statute or established by regulations promulgated by the board of education16 ”, including the state curriculum frameworks17 . The IDEA in turn defines FAPE as “special education and related services that:
1. have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction,
and without charge;
2. meet the standards of the State educational agency;
3. include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the State involved; and
4. are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under section 614 (d).18
The Federal courts have interpreted a FAPE to mean that the LEA is responsible to provide the student meaningful access to an education, in compliance with the IDEA requirements that the IEP provide “significant learning” and confer “meaningful benefit” to the student. Hendrick Hudson Bd. Of Education v. Rowley , 458 U.S. 176, 188-189 (1982); Burlington v. Department of Education , 736 F.2d 773 (1 st Cir. 1984); Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret F ., 526 U.S. 66 (1999). The Supreme Court has determined that the student’s education must provide personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit the child to benefit educationally. 458 U.S. 176.
I find that the IEP proposed by the Brockton Public Schools for the 2001-2002 academic year was not reasonably calculated to provide Student with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment19 .
As Brockton correctly pointed out in its closing argument, the legal sufficiency of an IEP must be measured by information available about the student’s needs at the time the IEP was drafted. In Re: Bellingham Public Schools , 8 MSER 167 (2002). At the time Brockton drafted this IEP the Team was aware that Student had been subjected to peer harassment during the previous two school years. It knew that Student experienced anxiety due to the negative peer interactions he had endured, among other things. The Team was aware that Parents had expressed concern about Student’s ability to be successful in an inclusion setting. It knew that Student had been unsuccessful in his prior inclusion setting. It was aware that Parents had explicitly requested that counseling be added to the prior IEP before they accepted it. The Team knew that Parents had requested that Student be placed at the North River Collaborative because he was anxious about school. (P-34, P-36) Despite its knowledge of the aforementioned information, the Team did not propose any services to deal with the anxiety and psychological impact that the peer harassment had on the Student and his ability to attend the proposed placement. At the very least, the IEP should have continued to offer counseling services. However, considering the undisputed peer harassment, and its impact as credibly testified to by Parents, the Team should have provided significant psychological support for the Student. It is impossible to predict whether the addition of psychological services to the IEP would have enabled the Student to attend the EJHS program, but the omission of such services surely made the IEP inappropriate. The evidence shows that Student has been traumatized by the experiences he endured during this fifth and sixth grades in the Brockton Public Schools. Although those two school years are not before me, I was disturbed that Brockton did not prevent the peer harassment Student undisputedly endured during his fifth and sixth grade years. Student’s lack of sufficient social skills should have been evident at that time and Student would have greatly benefited from participating in Dr. Putnam’s program during those years. I cannot ignore the impact those years have had upon the Student. Mother and Father were compelling when they described the emotional turmoil that Student experienced even after he stopped attending the Brockton Public Schools. Mother was so concerned by how Student would react to returning to the Brockton Public Schools that she asked Brockton staff not to tell Student they were from Brockton when they went to the family’s home to provide Student with services. (Andrews) Student had talked about making “booby traps” for his enemies and wanted to build his muscles. (Father) Student wet his pants upon seeing a former tormentor in the community. (Mother) As late as November 13, 2002, Dr. Larsson reported Student could not see anything positive about returning to school because it had become “a place where he is rejected, persecuted and constantly fearful.” (Larsson) Although the placement proposed for Student was not the same school that he had previously attended, some of the peers who had attended his prior school would attend the EJHS. As the IEP contained no provision to assist in alleviating Student’s anxiety in the event of an encounter with a prior tormenter, there is no reason to believe Student would not have reacted as he did when he encountered a peer in the community.
It was further inappropriate for Student’s IEP to contain an inclusion component, especially in light of the lack of psychological support provided. Parents had requested that inclusion be eliminated from Student’s program. Student had been unsuccessful in the prior inclusion setting as evidenced by his inability to complete the sixth grade year. (Mother)
Additionally, the IEP did not provide for summer services. Regulation 603 CMR 28.05(4)(d) states that “An extended year program may be identified if the student has demonstrated or is likely to demonstrate substantial regression in his or her learning skills and/or substantial difficulty in relearning such skills if an extended program is not provided.” The evidence shows that Brockton was aware that Student missed the end of the 2000-2001 school year due to anxiety and fear about attending school. Dr. Larsson testified that “Student’s most persistent fear and anxiety was around school.” (Larsson) Brockton had become aware of the scope of Student’s deficits in the areas of social skills, pragmatic skills, and adaptive behavior. (Putnam) The combination of the knowledge that Student had severe deficits in the above areas and the knowledge that Student was most anxious about school due to difficulties he had encountered because of his deficits should have pointed to the conclusion that Student was likely to demonstrate substantial regression at least in the area of social skills. Brockton should have provided the Student with a summer program.
2002-2003 IEP/EJHS placement
The 2002-2003 proposed IEP did not propose any inclusion. Additionally, the IEP provided Student with access to a guidance counselor if he becomes anxious, although direct counseling services were not included in the service delivery grid. (P-54) Dr. Putnam testified that a developmental psychologist was consulting to the EJHS program, as well. (Putnam) These modifications appear to render the proposed services appropriate for the Student.
Although the services appear appropriate, I am not convinced that the Student would be able to benefit educationally from the program without excessive assistance. Student did not receive services in the area of social skills, adaptive behavior skills or ADLs during the 2001-2002 school year. (Putnam) Since his skills were previously weak in all of those areas, there is no reason to believe they would have improved during the year that Student did not attend school. Additionally, Student continues to suffer from anxiety. (Mother, Father, Larsson) Although his anxiety is not caused only by previous school experiences, the prior experiences indisputably contribute to his anxiety. Dr. Larsson credibly testified that Student informed him of his “intense fears and anxieties of being threatened and hurt by his peers at school.” He also stated that the safer Student feels and the more structure he receives, the better he does. (Larrson)
In order to make Student feel safe in the EJHS program the staff would have to be highly vigilant in ensuring Student did not encounter a peer who had mistreated him in the past. This would require a degree of assistance that would make the program overly restrictive for Student. Mother’s testimony that Student wet his pants when he encountered a prior tormenter in the community is compelling evidence that Student does not currently have the ability to manage an environment where there is a real or perceived potential for encountering prior tormentors. School staff would have to ensure Student had no contact with said peers. That would mean Student would not be able to pass in the hallways during normal class breaks, attend school-wide assemblies, he would not be able to eat his lunch in the cafeteria, he would require separate transportation, he could not even use restrooms with the general population. He would essentially require an aide to shadow him wherever he went in the building. Aside from the stigmatization which would be inherent if a thirteen year old student were constantly shadowed by an adult, Student would not have a sufficient opportunity to learn and practice social skills in such a restrictive situation. Peers who might otherwise appropriately engage Student may be less likely to approach him if he were always accompanied by an adult. In order for any educational program to be appropriate for Student regardless of the appropriateness of the discrete services, per se, the placement must be such that he feels safe enough access to services.
The 2002-2003 IEP contains a provision for a summer program. Neither party presented evidence regarding the specific nature of the summer program. Therefore, I am not able to determine whether it was appropriate or inappropriate. Parents are not entitled to reimbursement for the cost of Student’s 2002 summer services, as they have not shown that the proposed services were inappropriate.
Pathways Academy placement
I am not able to determine whether the Pathways Academy placement is appropriate for the Student, because the Parents did not provide sufficient credible evidence. I did not credit Ms. Steven’s testimony regarding Pathways Academy, as she testified that she had been there for two hours or less and spent all of her time in the lunch room. Dr. Lasoski spent more time than Ms. Stevens observing the program, but her expertise, as she testified, is not in evaluating programs for students with high functioning autism. Dr. Putnam’s time at Pathways Academy was also limited, although not by his own volition. I am not persuaded by his limited opportunity to observe that the program is necessarily inappropriate for the Student. It would have been helpful to have heard from the program director or a teacher from Pathways Academy instead of hearing only testimony of Parents’ independent evaluators who reported what they had seen and learned during their limited visits. It would also have been helpful for one of the Parents to testify regarding their observations of the Student during the time he was attending Pathways. Based on the record before me I am not able to find the Pathways program appropriate or inappropriate for the Student.
In rendering my decision with respect to the IEPs, I relied heavily upon the testimony of Mother, Father, and Dr. Larsson. I found Mother’s testimony to be especially candid and thoughtful. The Parents were clearly loving and supportive, and offered compelling information about the impact of Student’s anxiety upon his education. I relied upon Dr. Larsson’s testimony regarding Student’s state of mind as a result of being tormented by his peers and the progress he made in dealing with school related anxiety. I found Dr. Putnam to be a very credible witness as he had an impressive amount of experience in developing programs for students with PDD. Additionally, he was extremely thorough in his analysis. He gathered information from school personnel, Parents, and Student and visited the summer camp program that Student attended and the Pathways program. My finding the EJHS program inappropriate for Student had nothing to do with Dr. Putnam. The opinions he rendered with respect to the Student’s needs were based upon more relevant experience and more first hand information than any of the Parents’ evaluators. However, Brockton involved him in Student’s education too late. Student is not currently able to attend the EJHS in a manner that would allow him to be educated in the least restrictive environment, a right to which he is entitled. That is not to say that Student will never be able to benefit from one of Dr. Putnam’s programs within the Brockton Public Schools.
I find that the IEP proposed by Brockton for the 2001-2002 school year was inappropriate as it did not address Student’s anxiety caused by prior traumatic experiences at the Brockton Public Schools. Additionally, I find that Brockton should have provided Student with a summer program during the summer of 2001. The Parents shall be reimbursed for the cost of the summer program that they provided to the Student during the summer of 2001. Additionally, the Parents shall be reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses for the therapy provided by Dr. Larsson during the 2001-2002 school year.
I find that the IEP proposed by Brockton for the 2002-2003 school year was inappropriate for the Student because the staffing and schedule restrictions which would be required to ensure Student’s feeling of safety would make the program overly restrictive. The Team shall immediately convene to determine an appropriate out-of-district day placement for the Student. The program shall address all areas which are addressed in Brockton’s 2002-2003 IEP. Additionally, the Team shall determine what psychological support the Student requires to address his anxiety regarding prior peer tormenting. Although I was not able to find the Pathways Academy program appropriate, the Team shall consider Pathways as an alternative placement as the limited evidence regarding Student’s performance at Pathways suggests he feels comfortable and is able to participate there. Student has missed a great deal of education and it is important that the Team ensure he not miss any more. The Team shall also ensure that Student is compensated appropriately for the education he lost during the entire 2001-2002 school year and the 2002-2003 school year.
By the Hearing Officer,
Catherine M. Putney-Yaceshyn
Dated: April 17, 2003
The Parents informed the Hearing Officer via facsimile that they had attempted to send their argument via facsimile on February 10, 2003, but had encountered difficulty.
The parties had agreed that Student would be in the seventh grade for the 2002-2003 school year although chronologically, he should have been an eighth grader. Mother believed that Student had not received enough tutoring during the 2002-2003 year to be promoted to the eighth grade. (Mother) Brockton believed Student would benefit from being in their program for an additional year. (Andrews)
Dr. Rosenbaum did not perform cognitive testing as the school had completed a WISC-III on February 8, 2000. He relied upon those scores. (P-29)
Dr. Putnam testified that the monitor teaching assistants have bachelor’s degrees.
She is supervised by and consults daily with a mentor teacher, Dr. Putnam, once per month, 2 behavioral staff are in her classroom for five hours per week and the department head, a special education certified teacher, supervises her. She stated that Barbara Woodland observes while in the classroom and if something happens she will work on strategies for helping the student relax or calm down and will suggest alternative strategies and work with the students. (Churchill).
Students work on collating, working in the library, watering plants in the library, distributing mail around the building, photocopying. (Churchill)
She stated that she is not aware of any evaluator other than Dr. Lasoski recommending such a program.
During the first half hour the boys negotiated to decide which sport to play and then played and practiced following rules. They would sit and talk during the second half hour.
While she tutored him, she was employed as a special education teacher at Brockton High School and she became a Team Facilitator for the Junior High Schools.
She started tutoring the Student the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and in January Student’s sister became very ill and they cancelled the tutoring. In February Ms. Corvini’s daughter had surgery and then Student had surgery and they had to schedule around those events. She missed several sessions when she had bronchitis as well.
Student would be able to go and visit the school while other students were not present and meet the teachers. They gave Mother a book with pictures of the building and the teachers so that Student could look at them at home and see who he would be meeting when he returned to school.
She testified that she was so concerned that Student would become distressed that she split her assessment of him over several days and she reported he was quite distressed. She also wanted to talk about the psychological issues separately so as not to contaminate the testing.
20 USC 1400 et seq .
MGL c. 71B.
20 USC 1412(5)(A)
MGL c. 71B, § 1.
See the Department of Education Advisory on FAPE.
33 USC 1401 (8). The federal regulations adopted pursuant to the IDEA include a similar definition of FAPE. 34 CFR 300.13.
Although Parents’ closing brief correctly points out that the IEP was proposed while the maximum feasible benefit standard was in effect, the Parents did not request that the issue be rephrased after it was read into the record at the Hearing. Because I have found the IEP inappropriate under the FAPE standard it is irrelevant that the maximum feasible benefit standard was in effect at the time.