Toolbox Tuesday: Another Tool #3 Case!

When I summarize a “Tool #3” case it all sounds so simple.  The kid was doing poorly. The school proposed moving him to an MRE (More Restrictive Environment), the parent disagreed, but the court sided with the school. Simple.  There are three things to prove:  1) the current arrangement is not working; 2) we have tried; and 3) this will be better for the student.  In this particular case the court concluded that the student was making very little progress and engaged in inappropriate behaviors in the classroom.  The student was unable to do the level of work the other students did, and was consuming too much of the teacher’s time. That’s how the hearing officer saw it, and that’s how the court saw it. 

However, this quick summary hardly captures the amount of effort that goes into a Tool #3 case.  Tool #3 in our firm’s Toolbox Training refers to an Educational Change of Placement Without Parental Agreement. 

What kind of effort?   First, the effort to serve the student well in the LRE.  Educators should work with the parents and brainstorm among themselves in an effort to improve the student’s progress in the less restrictive environment. The IEP must be implemented with fidelity.  Educators should be considering what supplemental aides and services might be helpful.

Second, the service providers need to document their efforts. The paperwork should make it clear that IEPs were implemented properly, that the staff met periodically to look for new ways to improve the situation, and that the parents were kept in the loop.  Remember that a Tool #3 case starts with the recognition that things are not going well. The parents should hear about that long before we propose a change of placement at an ARD meeting.

Third, the lawyers should be involved.  If the parents and the school agree that a change of placement is called for, then the change is easily implemented with an ARD meeting that ends in consensus. That’s Tool #2. But when the parents disagree, the school has to be prepared to defend its proposal in a due process hearing. Call the lawyer.

All of that should take place prior to the ARD meeting where the change is proposed. After the ARD, the school needs to prepare for a hearing.  That will involve a lot of time, energy, and usually, considerable stress. 

So there is nothing easy about a Tool #3 case, despite how it looks in the Daily Dawg summary when the dust has settled.  This one is E.B. v. Baldwin Park USD, decided by the federal court for the Central District of California on August 10, 2020. We found it in Special Ed Connection at 77 IDELR 164.


Tomorrow: Big news at SCOTUS!