MZ vs. Bethlehem Area School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

HEARING OFFICER DECISION/ORDER

Name: M.Z. (7650/06-07 KE)
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Type of Hearing: Closed
Date(s) of Hearing: 6/6/07; 6/25/07; 6/26/07

For the Parents: Parent[s]

Date Last Transcript Received:
Date of Decision: August 1, 2007
Hearing Officer: Vicki A. McGinley, Ph.D.

For the School District:

Hollie John Esq.
Sweet, Stevens, Tucker & Katz, LLP 331 E. Butler Avenue, P.O. Box 5069 New Britain, Pa. 18901

Date Last Transcript Received:

Date of Decision: August 1, 2007

Hearing Officer: Vicki A. McGinley, Ph.D.

Background Information

Student is [a pre-teenaged] identified child residing in the Bethlehem Area School District. Student receives Pennsylvania Chapter 14 services as a child identified with Speech Language Impairment and Autism (PDD-NOS). [Redacted.] On May 7, 2007, a Due Process Complaint Notice was filed from Parent indicating disagreement with the proposed Individualized Education Plan (hereafter IEP) dated May 31, 2007, 2007. Thus, the focus of the dispute was on services received through IDEIA and Pennsylvania Chapter 14 regulations. On May 31, 2007 a Resolution Meeting was held, however, matters were not resolved and as such parties proceeded to Due Process on June 6, 2007. The Due Process Hearing lasted three sessions, concluding on June 26, 2007. Prior to the Resolution Meeting and the first session of the Due Process Hearing, a telephone conference call was held with both parties on May 21, 2007 lasting approximately forty- five minutes in length. During this call, issue(s) to be addressed in the potential upcoming scheduled Due Process hearing were discussed and agreed upon by both parties, as well as all procedures for proceeding to due process. Another telephone conference call was held on June 4, 2007 following the Resolution Meeting. This call lasted a total of one hour, again covering Due Process Hearing procedures and issue to be addressed (N.T. 374) relevant background information pertaining to the Due Process Hearing follows:

On March 6, 2007 a Reevaluation Report (S.D. 2) was completed to address Parent’s request to assess comprehension of oral instruction, ability to stay on task and complete assignments, skills in handling emotional and relationship issues, current level of generalization of speech language therapy goals, planning and organizational skills and impact of noise in the classroom. In addition to the review of records and present data, an updated Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – 2nd Edition (WIAT-II) was performed. Scores from the subtests from this standardized test place student predominantly in the high average to superior range. In one subtext, Oral Expression student placed in the average range. Curriculum based assessment data from the Reevaluation Report placed student at the 5th grade mastery level in both Reading and Math with comprehension (an area of concern) at 100% accuracy. For behavior, an area of concern, the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2) was implemented. Student’s teacher ratings are all in the average range except for hyperactivity and withdrawal, which was scored, as at-risk, and Atypicality which was scored as being clinically significant. Parent scores were notably different with most behaviors being scored as at-risk (i.e., hyperactivity, withdrawal, adaptability, social skills, leadership, functional) and a number of behaviors being scored in the clinically significant range (i.e., depression, attention problems, and activities of daily living). On the Conner’s’ Rating Scales, similar to the BASC-2, observation and teacher input note hyperactivity/off task behavior as an area of concern for student. Parent and teacher noted these behaviors as concerns, as well as social skills and social problems. However, on the Social Skills Rating System Parent scored student in the below average range and Teacher scored student in the average range. The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) was chose to assess student’s Executive Functioning Skills, another area of concern by Parent. On this assessment, both Parent and Teacher rated student as clinically significant in the areas of Global Executive, Behavioral Regulation, Inhibit, Emotional Control, and ability to Monitor. Parent additionally rated child as clinically significant in Metacognition, Shifting, Working Memory and Organization of Materials. On the Beck Youth Inventory, student was found to have much lower than average skills. In the area of Behavior, records indicate only two incidents during the year, one consisting of the use of profanity and the other of bullying another child. During classroom observations on 1/1/6/07, 1/1/7/07 and 1/19/07 performed by the school psychologist, the Behavioral Observation of Students in Schools (B.O.S.S.) was utilized to measure level of engagement in academic tasks. Overall, results indicate that student exhibited similar levels of engagement as peers and off task behaviors were noted but indicate a mild area of concern since levels of off task did not indicate that attention difficulties were a significant concern. Peer group cooperation was evidenced. The Audiological report indicated hearing within normal limits A Functional Listening Evaluation yielded a score that “would not effect education”. On the Fisher’s Auditory Checklist, students score was above average for age and grade. In the area of Speech Language Pathology, on the Language Processing Test-Revised (LPT-R), as well as on the Test of Pragmatic Language (TOPL) student scored within the average range on all subtests. In the Test of Problem Solving 3: Elementary (TOPS3: Elementary), areas of concern were tested and some problem area were noted, such as lower then average performance on Making Inferences, Problem Solving and Determining Causes. In the area of Occupational Therapy, student scored within the average range of performance on the Beery Buketnica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration-VMI except for the Motor Coordination Component, which places [student] slightly below average, as when speed in increased, student does not do as well in handwriting. Student is independent for mobility, and all fine motor tasks. As a result of the Reevaluation Report student needs were identified in the area of social skills, organization and planning skills, on task behavior and decreasing hyperactivity, self-monitoring skills, coping skills and self esteem, increasing vocal volume, pragmatic skills, inferences, problem solving and cause and effect. Behaviors have not impeded educational performance as student is noted as having consistently achieved “A” and/or “O” grades while at [student’s] elementary school, and the ability achievement discrepancy analysis model was utilized to determine significant differences between student’s ability and achievement test scores; no educationally relevant discrepancies were noted between student’s ability and achievement.

Following the Reevaluation Report a series of meetings and revisions to the IEP occurred (April 17, 2007 IEP and May 31, 2007 (IEP). An Invitation to Participate in the IEP team meeting was generated on March 13, 2007 and an IEP was developed on March 28, 2007 and subsequently the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (hereafter) was generated on March 27, 2007 (S.D. 2, S.D. 3, S.D. 5). An updated Audiological Reevaluation Report as performed on April 9, 2007 (S.D. 4). Another Invitation to Participate in an IEP team meeting was sent on April 3, 2007, and a new NOREP was developed and dated on April 17, 2007 (S.D. 10, S.D. 11). Parent provided input and new goals and were developed and incorporated on April 17, 2007. The final meeting

Issue(s):

Is the IEP dated May 31, 2007 appropriate to provide meaningful educational benefit to student, particularly in the areas of prediction, inferencing, drawing conclusions, listening comprehension, planning, organization, time management, classifying concepts, classroom noise and eye contact?

M-Z-Bethlehem-Area-ODRNo-7650-06-07-KE

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