Toolbox Tuesday: A Tool #3 Case to Study!

The Toolbox is our firm’s training program regarding serving students with disabilities who present challenging behaviors.  We offer ten “tools” that are available that should lead to serving the student effectively, while maintaining safety for all.  One of the more difficult tools to use is Tool #3—An Educational Change of Placement Without Parent Approval.

To make a change of placement over parental objection requires the school to justify the move before a special education hearing officer. I recently came across a case that nicely illustrates how to do that.  Testimony from multiple educators demonstrated 1) that the school had made a good faith effort to serve the student in a less restrictive setting; 2) that it was not working well; and 3) that the student would be better served in a more restrictive setting.  Those are the three things the school has to prove.  Note the court’s reference to “multiple educators.” The staff was united on this. 

The parent challenged the move, asserting that a move to an MRE (More Restrictive Environment) was not called for.  But applying the Daniel R.R. test for an LRE/MRE analysis, the court ruled in favor of the district. The school made one mistake.  It failed to provide the parents with a Prior Written Notice informing them of the change.  However, the court determined that this was a  procedural error that did not cause any harm. The parents knew and understood what was happening. 

Tool #3 should be used rarely, and only with full support from the teaching staff and after a legal review.  But as this case shows, it can work. 

The case of Clasen v. Unified School District Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative was decided by the U.S. District Court for Kansas on August 27, 2019.  We found it at Special Ed Connection at 75 IDELR 5.


Tomorrow: We move from Toolbox to Toolkit!