Part One: Due Process Hearing
The due process hearing was set up after there was no resolution that could be reached between the petitioner (student/parent) Carolyn Morris, and the respondent which in this case was Harmony Science academy. The action was regarding an issue with the charter school that the petitioner felt was covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) as well as the state and federal regulations. Mediation was offered however it was denied so no mediation was reached in this case resulting in the hearing. Mediation is a process where the petitioner and the school might reach an agreement outside of arbitration. The process involves the petitioner and respondent meeting with a third party that is neutral to see if there is a middle ground that will settle their dispute. Mediation is available at any time during the dispute even if there is already a hearing scheduled or a complaint made. The mediator does not take sides or make a decision, he/she only helps the two disputing parties find a common understanding (Diamond, 2014). The petitioner was represented by a Nina Morris and the charter school requested a 45 day extension of the hearing because they felt that Nina was not qualified to represent the petitioner in a case involving the law and wanted Nina to provide proof of her qualifications. Nina Morris was a student advocate and the charter school felt that while it was okay for Nina to assist the petitioner, she was not qualified to represent the petitioner in this matter. The decision was reached by the hearing officer after Nina provided her documentation that she was qualified to represent the defendant in the hearing. The Due process hearing was then scheduled to commence on October 11, 2013. There were a number of issues that needed to be addressed at the hearing that are under the IDEA act including:
As a result of the schools failure to allegedly do these things the petitioner requested relief which included the charter school changing some of the practices they currently follow to establish persons who are eligible for special education. The hearing officer went through all of the documentation about what took place between the student, the teachers and the student’s mother from the time the child was enrolled in the charter school until he/she failed the test which led to the hearing. After extensive history analysis it was up to the hearing officer to make a decision about the charter schools actions under IDEA and child find. Child find has a two pronged based system that establishes if a child needs special education. First is to determine if the child has a disability and second is to determine if the child is in need of special education. As a result of the schools acceptance of the assertion that the student had a disability as well as the fact that they did not dispute this in there closing arguments the hearing officer determined that the first prong of the child find test was met.
When it came to the second prong, which was to determine if the child needed special education services the hearing officer felt that the school met this prong as well. The school and the mother agree that the student has a disability and as a result the charter school took a plan that was useful at the child’s old school and incorporated it. They also offered special tutoring and a 504 plan which were both denied by the student’s mother because she insisted the child be in a special education program. The student showed improvements when the charter school worked with his/her disability needs and met all of the expectations. As a result the hearing officer concluded that the petitioner was unable to establish the necessary proof that these needs were ignored. When it came to the issues the hearing officer was able to establish that the charter school failed to get consent from the parent which was issue number two. As for the rest of the issues the hearing officer found the charter school was not in fault and had complied with the necessary procedures. Directly resulting from this the hearing officer made a decision that some of the petitioners claims had grounds and therefore the school would need to make a few changes in their training and informative policies. The schools counterclaim was granted and all of the other requests by the petitioner were denied (State, 2015).
Part Two: Six Major Tenants of IDEA
When it comes to determining which of the six major tenants of IDEA this case represented it is important to note what all of the principles of IDEA include. These rules or principles have remained pretty much the same since they were established in 1975. The first principle is known as zero reject which states that schools have to provide education for every student with a disability. This principle also states that it is the schools responsibility to locate identifies and evaluates these children. In this case the zero reject policy was in question because the petitioner stated that she felt her child was not properly identified and provided the services he/she needed as a child with ADHD. ADHD is also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is included under the list of disabilities that could determine a child is eligible for special education. In some cases this is true and in others ADHD does not automatically qualify the child for special education services. The qualifying factor is that the ADHD is a direct contributor to issues with the child’s issues in school (Editors, 1998). The hearing officer in this case denied her statement saying the charter school complied with the necessary policies. The second principle is known as the nondiscriminatory Identification and evaluation. T
his policy says there can be no discrimination based on any factors e.g. race, culture, social status, that stops a student from being evaluated. In this case the second principle was not in question. The third principle is regarding Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) which allots that all children receive an education which there parents do not have to pay for. This includes an IEP or individualized education program which specifically targets the needs of the child with a disability. The petitioner did assert that her child was not granted this however the hearing officer concluded through the testimony given by the school and petitioner, that the plan from the old school was adopted at the charter school to specifically target the petitioners needs. The officer also held that the school offered tutoring which was denied by the petitioner. The fifth principle addresses the matter that a LRE or least restrictive environment is provided by the school for special needs children. Most of the time special needs children are educated with the other children in a regular classroom. However if the child is unable to get the education they need in a regular classroom then a special learning environment is necessary and required (Education, 2015).An LRE requires that children be separated from others and educated in a different classroom due to their disability.
This was an issue that was brought up in the case however the hearing officer established that the school did not see the student as unable to learn in a normal environment so the officer held that this was not required. The sixth principle is known as due process safeguards. Due process is a state and federal requirement under the law as well as the IDEA act that ensures parents and students with disabilities are able to get a free and proper education. Schools are expected to follow the policies and procedures set in the Due process intentions. It is in short a list of the parents and students rights that the school must follow regarding the disabled child (Logsdon, 2014). One of the due process safeguards requires that the school obtain parental consent within a timely manner for evaluations regarding special education concerns. On this issue the hearing officer did find that the charter school did not comply with obtaining the consent that was needed within a timely manner (Hewerd, 2013).
Part Three: What Changes are made as a result of the hearing?
The hearing officer’s decisions mostly favored the charter school and established the petitioner was not able to provide substantial evidence to support the issues that were brought up. However the hearing officer’s decision did require that the charter school make some changes as a result of the hearing. The first change is that the staff at the school should address parental consent requirement training as well as written consent when a parent requests special education evaluation for their child. This training is to be provided to every employee at the school through a trainer of the schools choice. These are minor changes that the school will need to make however they are major when it comes to the importance of following the principles of IDEA. Prior written notice requires the school to keep the parent of the student informed about anything the school is actively doing to meet the educational needs of the child. This includes any actions about a child’s special education needs and what the school is doing to meet the state as well as federal requirements and the requirements of IDEA. The prior written notice also refers to any meetings that the school needs to hold with the parent of the child concerning his/her educational needs or issues. Consent covers notifying the parent of anything that he/she needs to be involved in concerning there child’s educational meetings. That includes an easy to comprehend informative packet that will help the parent understand what the school is attempting to do to meet the child’s specific needs as far as any disability is concerned (resources, 2014). The school programs are able to remain the same because they were able to sufficiently meet the needs of the petitioner. It was the petitioner’s mother that refused the after school and summer tutoring as well as the 504 program. Only the practices of the school officials regarding written consent need to be changed slightly to ensure the parents of children with disabilities are aware of the programs that are available and being considered for their children.
Part four: Do I agree or disagree with the hearing officer’s decision
Children with ADHD attending school are protected under two separate laws in their ability to receive specialized education for their disability. One federal law is known as section 504 which prohibits discrimination of children with disabilities and for children with ADHD this law may require the school district to make special arrangements to help educate the child. The second law pertains to the IDEA act which requires the school to provide special education classes that specifically cater to a disabled child’s needs that cannot be met by the school. In this case the child in question was attending a charter school and the mother felt that the school did not meet her child’s specific educational needs as this child was diagnosed with ADHD and struggling at certain times with school (Photograph, 2014). The parent and school came to a disagreement about what was appropriate as far as helping the child in question out. I feel that the hearing officer made a fair and informative decision that ensured both parties would be satisfied. The hearing officer did recognize that the mother was not given proper and timely written consent and information and as a result the hearing officer made the school make changes to their current training policies to ensure that this did not happen again to another child. However due to the schools ability to produce evidence that they attempted to cater to the child’s needs and when the student cooperated this educational approach was working the hearing officer decided that the petitioners other issues were unfounded. This was a decision that recognized the schools efforts as well as the child’s learning needs in the fairest way possible and therefore I completely agree with the hearing officer’s final decision in this case.
Diamond, C. (2014). IDEA Special Education Mediation (p. All).
Editors, A. (1998). Do ADHD Students Qualify for Special-Education Accommodations? Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/625.html
Education, D. (2015). IDEA - Building The Legacy of IDEA 2004. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/,root,regs,300,D,300%2E300,
Heward, W. (2013). Six Major Principles of IDEA. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.education.com/reference/article/six-major-principles-idea/
Logsdon, A. (2014). Due Process - Indivduals Disabilities Education Act. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/df/g/due_process.htm
Photograph, P. (2014). Federal Laws Pertaining To ADHD Diagnosed Children. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/medicating/schools/feds.html
Resources, L. (2014). Center for Parent Information and Resources. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.parentcenterhub.org/repository/qa2/
Wright, P., & Wright, P. (2014). The Child Find Mandate: What Does It Mean to You? - Wrightslaw. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/child.find.mandate.htm