We like to write about the Toolbox on Tuesdays. The Toolbox is an all-day training program for campus administrators and special education staff, focusing on “tools” that are available to address serious behavior issues presented by students with disabilities. We talk a lot in the Toolbox training about the importance of evaluation data to support the decisions the school makes. This includes following up on suggestions in earlier evaluations.
Consider: the District of Columbia evaluated a six-year old boy who was getting into a lot of trouble at school. The IEP Team meeting was held in January, 2014, and it concluded that the boy did not qualify for special education services. This was largely based on the district’s evaluation. However, that evaluation also included this:
If his behaviors increase in frequency and severity, a re-evaluation of his behavior and social-emotional functioning might be warranted.
His behaviors certainly did increase in frequency and severity. From March to May the district suspended the boy six times and “expelled” him four times. (We’re not sure what “expulsion” means in D.C.). On top of that, in March the boy jumped out of a second floor window in an attempt to end his life. It’s not like the school did not know about this—it happened at school.
But apparently, no one remembered the warning contained in the school’s evaluation. The person who conducted that evaluation later testified that she did not know about the subsequent behavioral issues. It looks like the staff on the ground knew about the behavioral issues, but forgot about, or ignored, the caution in the boy’s evaluation. Bottom line: the district never followed up. The court held that the district violated its Child Find responsibility. The district should have heeded the warning in its own evaluation, and taken a fresh look at the student’s eligibility.
The case is Horne v. Potomac Preparatory Public Charter School, decided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on July 20, 2016. We found it at 68 IDELR 38.
DAWG BONE: WHEN CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE, IT MIGHT BE WISE TO DO A NEW EVALUATION.
File this one under: SPECIAL EDUCATION DISCIPLINE