legal trends in transition n.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Legal Trends in Transition PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Legal Trends in Transition

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 42

Legal Trends in Transition - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Legal Trends in Transition. Educational Services Unit #13 January 29, 2013 Diane S. Bassett, Ph.D. University of Northern Colorado d Essential Questions. Is the special education mandate a “minimal” or “optimal” education?

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Legal Trends in Transition' - bishop

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
legal trends in transition

Legal Trends in Transition

Educational Services Unit #13

January 29, 2013

Diane S. Bassett, Ph.D.

University of Northern Colorado

essential questions
Essential Questions
  • Is the special education mandate

a “minimal” or “optimal” education?

  • What is the Rowley case and how is it being reinterpreted… and so what?
  • What recent cases involve transition principles?
  • What are the implications of the court decisions?
  • How have transition principles influenced litigation, legislation, and school practices?
hendrick hudson central school district board of education v rowley
HendrickHudson Central School District Board of Education v. Rowley
  • Historic 1982 case required educational services providing “some educational benefit”
  • Precedent for “basic floor of opportunity” (minimal education) to students with disabilities
  • Does not provide “optimal education” where students can realize their potential -- does minimal mean adequate?
  • “Cadillac vs. Chevrolet”


rowley standard cont
Rowley Standard, cont.
  • In 1982, EHA lacked accountability

and consistency in the application of education standards; no transition requirements.

  • Now: Standards are omnipresent and all students are expected to master them.
  • Some State courts ruling that ‘minimal’ education (‘basic floor’)- not misguided, but illegal and that….
  • SWD should receive an “optimal” education.
  • Education should be purposeful, lead to real-life future outcomes, self-knowledge & self-sufficiency.
seismic shift in idea
Seismic Shift in IDEA

1997: Goal of "access" reached, now Congress seeks to:

  • Address "low expectations”
  • Utilize evidence-based methods of teaching
  • Provide a commitment to “national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency”
  • Acknowledge a shift of FAPE to access to general ed. curriculum
idea 2004
IDEA 2004

Transition is designedto be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities…to prepare [them] for further education, employment, and independent living….

states courts argue minimal is not adequate
States courts argue: “Minimal is not adequate”
  • “...prepare students for useful

and happy occupations….” (W.Virginia)

  • “…sufficient levels of academic or vocational live up to his or her full human potential…” (Alabama)
  • “…to pursue life work

intelligently… (Kentucky)

  • “…to prepare citizens for role as participants and competitors in today’s marketplace of ideas…” (New Hampshire)
prior cases
Prior Cases
  • In 2006, Etcheidt reviewed 36

state admin. & district court rulings

related to school-to-postsecondary transition plans (1997-2004)

  • Male & female, students with LD, EBD, autism or Aspergers, & multiple disabilities
what was found
What was found?

Identified 5 transition themes

at heart of the decisions:

  • Agency contacts
  • Student involvement
  • Individualization of transition plans
  • District obligations
  • Appropriateness of transition plans

All decisions addressed importance of individualizing transition planning on basis of strengths, needs, preferences, and interests.


Districts won cases when they could

(a) demonstrate good faith efforts to obtain info. about agency services, (b) include agencies in transition planning, and (c) link parents & students with agency resources.


Students must attend IEP meeting; but if not, then preferences, interests, concerns must still be considered by the IEP team.

Districts need not address every student preference, but team may determine a course of study aligned with interests & services to achieve transition goals.


Appropriate courses of study, based on assessed strengths, preferences and interests.

Cannot substitute sound, coherent, individualized programs of study with activities such as generic information to students and families.

Involve students & parents.

Courts can require solutions such as: community- based programming in ‘real world’ settings; functional skill development after graduation with peers.


No guarantees, but district

must do more than provide information and help apply to college.

Must provide coherent plan of studyand services calculated to provide benefit the student.

Fact that student met grad.requirements, did not mean district is relieved of its obligation to provide transition services needed to complete IEP goals (Etcheidt, 2006).


When districts failed to provide adequate services in secondary ed mandated to provide and fund compensatory services to students already graduated, or enrolling in college.

If districts demonstrated they offered FAPE and ensured successful participation in and completion of IEP goals  compensatory services not

required (nor granted).

court cases relevant to transition principles
Court Cases Relevant to Transition Principles
  • Luke P v Thompson Valley School District, CO (2008)
  • K.L. v Mercer Island School District, WA (2009)
  • Dracut School Committee v. Bureau of Special Education Appeals, MA (2010)
  • Klein ISD v. Hovem, TX (2010)
  • Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools, WI (2012)
luke p v thompson s d 2008
Luke P. v. Thompson S.D. (2008)

A youth with autism

Able to do certain skills at school but they did not generalize to home

Home behaviors were untenable, including eating, sleeping, dressing, toilet training, and incidences of violence against family members

Parents asked for residential treatment center and moved Luke P. to Higashi School in MA, then sued Thompson Valley S.D. for tuition reimbursement

school for luke
School for Luke

Parents moved Luke P. to Higashi School in MA, then sued Thompson Valley S.D. for tuition reimbursement

Luke was at Higashi school for four years at a cost of approx. $160k per year.

“…all education has as its purpose the advancement of knowledge and skills so that the student can reasonably apply them in other contexts…public schools must accord some educational benefit…must address issues of generalization..”(2005, Due Process Decision)

district court upholds alj and iho
District Court upholdsALJ and IHO
  • June 27, 2007

“…while the inability to generalize certain academic skills across environments would not always mean that an IEP is not providing an educational benefit, I must agree with the administrative decision-makers that the lack of generalization of the most basic life skills, such as appropriate behavior, toileting, and eating indicate that the educational benefits received by Luke werede minimis” (p. 17).

  • IEP inadequate
  • Least restrictive environ. is Higashi School
  • Parents provided adequate notice of change of placement
court of appeals 10 th circuit overturns district court decision august 29 2008
Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, Overturns District Court Decision August 29, 2008

Generalization is a critical skill for self-sufficiency but IDEA may not attach “essential importance” to it

“ Congress did not provide in IDEA a guarantee of self-sufficiency for all disabled persons”

Congress established procedures to guarantee disabled students access and opportunity, not substantive outcomes (Rowley Standard)

And Now?

Parents appealed to U.S. Supreme Court but were denied

Luke back at Higashi School but it is unclear who is funding his tuition

k l and mercer island school district 2006
K.L and Mercer Island School District (2006)
  • K.L was a 17 year old with severe learning disabilities that

impacted her reading and writing skills.

  • After several years at Mercer Island S.D, parents unilaterally placed K.L. in Landmark School in MA and sued for tuition reimbursement for her 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years.
  • Transition goals stated that K.L would attend community college and engage in competitive employment
  • “…[IDEA ’97] clearly states it commitment to “our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities”
  • “…IDEA “97 is simply not about ‘Access:’

it is focused on “transition services….an outcome-oriented process,

which promotes movement from school to post-school activities…”

mercer cont
Mercer, cont.

Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit Decision - August 6, 2009 vacated the District Court’s decision and remanded back to District Court to reapply the Rowley standard

“The substantive test of Rowleydoes not require the absolutely best or ‘potential maximizing’ education for the individual child, but the benefit must be real and measurable”

klein isd v hovem texas 2010
Klein ISD v. Hovem (Texas, 2010)

Per Hovem, a twice exceptional student, scored in the 600s on SATs but wrote at 1st grade level

Hovem’s parents sent him to Landmark School and sought reimbursement from school district

Transition plan judged too general (written expression problems not even addressed) and educational and vocational interests disregarded

District ordered to reimburse family for last 2 years of tuition expenses.

August 6, 2012, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considered the case and reversed the District Court’s decision saying the ISD did not fail to comply with IDEA and that “Rowley requires no more.”

wording from judge harmon
Wording from Judge Harmon:

"While highlighting his passage of classes ... [the district] downplayed the crucial impact ... [that] an inability to write ... inevitably plays in a person's ability to function in life,"

“The school district in fact was ignoring that area of continuing weakness, Per's learning disability, and relied on the highly intelligent student's good scores in other areas unaffected by that disability to obscure the fact that over the years KISD was not providing "a 'free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet [Per's] unique needs and prepare [him] for further education, employment, and independent living.”

So, Courts are upholding the Rowley Standard. What’s Next? Compensatory Education for Post-school relief ?

Compensatory education has been awarded to remedy the denial of FAPE

Usually occurs while a child is still in school (e.g., extended school year, intensive therapies, one-on-one)

considerations for the provision of compensatory education
Considerations for the provision of compensatory education

C.E. may be offered or ordered if a district denies FAPE by not developing an appropriate IEP or not implementing it appropriately

Remedy should place students in the position they would have been in had FAPE not been denied

C.E. must be the type of educational and related services that are part of a K-12 education offered through the district

The purpose of C.E. is to remedy the failure to provide those types of services

Judges or administrative offices can craft very specific awards detailing what services will be provided, who will provide, and under what timeline

compensatory ed cont
Compensatory ed. cont.

For students under 21, compensatory education may mean either "current compensatory education" or "future compensatory education." The former includes extended day programs, extended year services, summer school or tutoring; the latter is essentially a promise now to provide education beyond the student's 22nd birthday.

dracut school committee v bureau of special education appeals massachusetts 2010
Dracut School Committee v. Bureau of Special Education Appeals (Massachusetts, 2010)

C.A., a student with ADHD, bipolar disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, and anxiety disorder, claimed inadequate transition services.

Hearing Officer and District Court found FAPE was denied

IEPs not reasonably calculated to provide meaningful benefit

Failure to provide transition assessments until the last IEP and info not utilized from the parents’ assessment

Vocational assessment did not address post-secondary education and independent living skills

District ordered to issue a diploma and then provide compensatory transition services for 2 years

assessment was not timely
Assessment was not timely….

“Although Dracut ultimately offered C.A. a five‐month long internship at a credit union located in the high school, a four‐month technology internship, and a gym class mentoring program, it passed most of the relevant two year window without action, failing to assess or provide services to address C.A.’s vocational skills, despite its obligation to do so throughout this period.”

jamie s v milwaukee public schools june 9 2009
Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools - June 9, 2009

A class action suit brought before the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Milwaukee Public Schools MPS) in 2001

A “class” of former students contended that MPS was negligent in providing timely and appropriate education to each of them

Plaintiffs contended they were suspended, or excluded from receiving special education services even upon multiple requests for assessment and placement

jamie s v mps cont
Jamie S. V. MPS cont.

Both DPI and MPS were found in violation of IDEA (specifically, FAPE)

DPI settled with students, MPS was under court order to seek compensatory remedies as specified by DPI


Possibilities for Compensatory Education Relief For students still in school, academic in-school compensatory ed. will be consideredFor students who have aged out of the district, suggestions for compensatory education are very transition-focused:

  • Tuition and support for postsecondary education
  • Functional community-based assessments
  • Training on self-advocacy and self-determination
  • Job internships
  • Job placement and training
  • Job coaching
  • Life skills training
  • Life planning assistance
  • Provision of technology (computers, assistive technology.
7th circuit u s court of appeals overturns jamie s decision february 3 2012
7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturns Jamie S. decision February 3, 2012

Court throws out class certification order from District Court

Court vacates the liability and remedial orders that MPS was obligated to follow

DPI’s settlement required more of the district than DPI had the statutory right to demand

March 5, 2012, new hearing at the Court of Appeals denied

recent 2012 rulings
Recent 2012 Rulings

Feb. 27 – Horizon Instructional Systems Charter School CA – ALJ ruled that school failed to offer a student with autistic-like characteristics adequate vocational training through his transition plan. The district must conduct a functional assessment of the student and create goals for acquired skills off-campus and in the community.


June 25 – Carrie I. ex. rel. Greg I. v. Dept of Ed. State of Hawaii – Hawaii Dept of Ed. violated IDEA by failing to consider the harmful effects that a public school might have on a student with autism (i.e., darting into busy streets) as well as failing to conduct transition assessments and develop an appropriate postsecondary transition plan.


July 12 – Worthington City S.D. Ohio – Ohio ED said district violated IDEA in facilitating the transfer of age of majority rights to a 17 year old. The transfer was not completed in a timely fashion and consisted only of reading the “transfer of rights” to the student, leaving him still confused about his new adult responsibilities


September 10 – Strongsville City S.D. Ohio – Ohio ED determined that a district failed to provide appropriate and measurable goals and objectives for a student with ADHD (an employment goal targeted the goal of going to college, not the ultimate employment goal therein).Thus, employment and education goals must be specific unto themselves.

transition issues addressed in these cases
Transition Issues addressed in these cases:


Child Find (Jamie S.)

Compensatory education

Goals addressed in the community

Transfer of age of majority

Transition assessments

Goals and objectives pertinent to post-school goals

the rowley standard revisited
The Rowley Standard revisited

Hendrick Hudson Central School District Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 200,

Supreme Court mandated that EHA offers “minimum educational benefit”

Basic floor of educational opportunity

Cadillac vs. Chevrolet argument

Now, 25 years after Rowley, purpose of IDEA has shifted from providing access to educational services to providing meaningful and measurable programs within the context of gen. ed.

We may be held to a higher standard today in the provision of educational services and FAPE

Yell, Kantsiyannis, and Hazelhorn, 2007

what does it all mean perhaps in the future
What does it allMean?Perhaps in the future….
  • A ‘minimal education’ is no

longer an ‘adequate education’

  • All students are expected to achieve proficiency on content area standards
  • Public schools may be expected to provide education that can generalize to other settings
  • Public schools may be expected to ensure student learning can be used in the future to provide economic self-sufficiency
crystal ball for transition principles
Crystal Ball for Transition Principles….
  • The systematic, cumulative, long-range nature of transition planning/decision-making is not explicit in IDEA, nor well implemented.
  • High dropout rates, low graduation rates, poor postsecondary outcomes - importance of beginning transition planning within the IEP process as early as possible in secondary ed.
  • Academic and functional skills must be addressed.
  • Districts must demonstrate good faith efforts to develop goals and supports that benefit students.
impacts of the rulings
Impacts of the Rulings
  • Cases such as Luke P. v. Thompson Valley School District (CO) K.L v. Mercer Island School District (WA), and Jamie S. v. Milwaukee Public Schools (WI) sought to extend boundaries of educational purpose, expectations and practice, but ultimately they were overturned.
  • The Rowley standard is being upheld as the boundaries of educational responsibilities are being drawn ever tighter.
  • Compensatory education may provide relief to students in school as well as adults who have exited school to receive transition services. To date, there has been no statute of limitations on age.
recommendations to consider
Recommendations to consider:

Conduct appropriate and thorough transition assessments

Ensure that academic and skill needs are addressed

Develop goals and objectives that relate directly to each post-school goal

Work with parents and child to ensure appropriate and thoughtful transfer of adult rights

Keep lines of communication open with parents!!!!


“…ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities…..” K.L. v. Mercer Island S.D.