In October 2021, a U.S. District Court required a school district to reimburse Nevada parents for their educational expenses. The Court decided the student needed an IEP with a specific methodology in order to progress. The U.S. Department of Education has long recognized there are certain times when a particular program or method should be in the IEP.
The Court in Rogich v. Clark County School District decided that the school had not sufficiently considered the parent’s private evaluations. Often a school only “considers” the evaluations by holding a meeting. But they do not have to make changes to the IEP.
Here, the school did not dispute anything in the evaluations. The school did not explain why it refused to follow the recommendations from the evaluations. The private evaluations recommended the student needed a specific type of program to progress. While the school claimed it could meet the student’s needs, it did not have staff trained in any of the recommended programs. The school refused to even let the parents know what type of programs it had in the school. Also, the school did not address the parent's concerns for their child’s education.
These were violations of the IDEA. The Court decided that the school cannot ask the parents to "trust us to provide her what she needs" without more information.
The school also could not meet the student’s needs by mixing and matching programs. The Court found that mixing programs could confuse the student. When a student needs a particular program, the school must deliver instruction according to the program and with fidelity.
Because the school had not offered an appropriate program, the Court awarded over $450,000 in reimbursement. This award covered many years of private programs for the student.
Hopefully Arizona courts and hearing officers will follow the lead of this case. Schools should have to explain what they are going to do to educate a student with disabilities. They should explain why they are refusing to use a program if it is recommended. And they should include specific programs or methodologies in the IEP when the student needs them.
If you think the school is not meeting your child’s needs or not listening to your concerns you may need to contact an attorney. Please contact the Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC (602-296-4962) if you need help with a dispute about the IEP or if you have concerns.