School district ordered to hire consultant to develop, oversee child’s educational program.

Topic: Special Education, Decided by Judge Miller 
Docket Number: 1600119 , Decision Date: 2016-01-05 
Attachment: Click here to download the decision. 
Attachment: Click here to download the decision on appeal. 

Petitioner, an autistic child receiving special education services, was not offered a free appropriate public education (FAPE), as guaranteed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA).  First, the school district’s staff improperly relied upon the results of invalid functional behavioral assessments, failed to implement an appropriate behavior intervention plan, and ignored an outside expert’s recommendations for addressing the child’s interfering behaviors.  Second, the District failed to timely evaluate the child’s need for assistive technology, and to timely acquire an assistive-technology device for his use.  Third, the child’s Individualized Education Programs (“IEPs”) for two and one-half years were not reasonably calculated to confer educational benefit.  Fourth, the District used a belted compass chair to keep the child in his seat during instruction time, which violated a Georgia Department of Education regulation and otherwise failed to appropriately address the child’s behavioral issues.  The child’s parents were awarded reimbursement for the costs incurred in providing private behavior management services, the child was awarded compensatory education, and the District was ordered to hire, at its own expense, the same outside expert who had conducted an independent evaluation on the child to oversee the child’s educational program.  Following a second hearing to determine the parameters of this consultancy, the District was ordered to hire the expert and his company for a three and one-half year period.  For the first eighteen months, the expert and his company would be responsible for conducting assessments, developing a new program, and then exclusively implementing that program.  Afterward, the expert and his company would train the District’s staff in implementing the child’s educational program, and then monitor the District’s delivery of the program for the remainder of the consultancy period.