IEP goal: “the student will write without crying…”

When you read the title of today’s Daily Dawg do you silently utter a “bless his heart”?  I did.  This student was completely wrapped around the axle when it came to writing. The boy was deemed “twice exceptional,” having superior intelligence along with several disabilities that impeded his progress, particularly in writing.  The parents ultimately put him in a small private school for 9th and 10th grades and sought tuition reimbursement. They alleged that the district failed to offer an “appropriately ambitious” IEP. 

It's true that the student’s goals for writing got less ambitious as the student progressed.  By the time he left public school the district had reduced his writing goals to completing only 50% of all assignments with a 50% extension of time on the ones he was expected to do. But the private school also had a hard time with the student’s writing goals, ultimately reducing the goal to “write without crying.”

The court did not make a ruling as to the appropriateness of the private school. The court ruled in favor of the district because it had offered the student a FAPE.  Key Quotes:

…repetition of IEP goals does not indicate a lack of progress where, each year, those goals are applied to a new and more challenging set of classes.

The fact that A.M.’s progress was below grade level is only part of the inquiry….

…the Hearing Officer’s conclusion that the District offered A.M. significant and professionally designed supports both inside and outside his regular classroom is well supported. 

Put simply, the information available to the District at the end of 8th grade suggested that A.M. was already performing as well as could be reasonably hoped for.

It’s A.M. v. Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, decided by the federal district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on September 21, 2022.  It’s in Special Ed Connection at 81 IDELR 246.


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