Student and Springfield Public Schools – BSEA # 09-5976
MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
Bureau of Special Education Appeals
In Re: Student and Springfield Public Schools
This matter comes before the Hearing Officer on the Motion of the Springfield Public Schools to Join the Department of Mental Retardation, the Department of Public Health and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind in this appeal. All the named state entities oppose joinder. The Parent does not oppose joinder at this time.
The dispute between the School and the Parent is in an early stage and the facts are not well developed. Nevertheless the current parties agree on the facts pertinent to a resolution of this joinder Motion.
1. The Student has substantial multiple disabilities and is eligible to receive a free, appropriate public education under the IDEA 2004 and M.G.L. c 71B.
2. Springfield Public Schools is responsible for developing and providing a free, appropriate public education to the Student.
3. The Student is currently in a hospital.
4. Springfield has not yet proposed an IEP for the Student.
5. The Student is eligible for and is receiving various services from the Department of Mental Retardation, the Department of Public Health, and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.
6. The Student asserts that she requires a residential special educational program in order to receive appropriate services under 20 U.S.C.§1041 et seq and M.G.L. c71B.
BSEA Rule 1F permits involuntary joinder of parties to a special education appeal when there has been a persuasive showing that
… complete relief cannot be granted among those who are already parties, or the person being joined has an interest related to the subject matter of the case and is so situated that the case cannot be disposed of in their absence.
Factors to be weighed when considering whether joinder is appropriate in any given special education appeal include:
the risk of prejudice to the present parties in the absence of the proposed party; the range of alternative for fashioning relief; the inadequacy of a judgment entered in the proposed party’s absence; and the existence of an alternative forum to resolve the issues.
After careful consideration of the School’s arguments in favor of Joinder, and of the thoughtful oppositions submitted by the DMR, the DPH and the MCB, I find no substantial reason to join any of the proposed parties at this time. Springfield has not yet developed an IEP for this Student. Springfield’s Motion is therefore premature and lacks the requisite showing of potential prejudice to an existing party of proceeding in the absence of a proposed party. I am unable to determine on these undisputed facts whether there are some services unique to any of the agencies which are necessary for the full and effective implementation of the School’s special education program. Without these critical pieces of information, and with the Parent’s request for residential special education services, this appeal appears to be a traditional placement dispute that can be resolved without the participation of public agencies other than the Springfield Public Schools.
The School’s Motion to Join the Department of Mental Retardation, the Department of Public Health, and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is DENIED .
By the Hearing Officer,
Dated: June 3, 2009