Toolbox Tuesday!! Did the charter school expel the student when it “disenrolled” him?

The charter school required all students to participate in statewide testing, or the alternative test provided by the State of California. However, students in special education could be exempted.  The student was in special education, and exempted from the standardized tests until all this happened:

April 1: Parent revoked consent for special education.

April 3: School acknowledges the revocation and reminds parent that student will now be responsible for participating in the testing.

April 5: Parent requests evaluation for special education services.

April 19: School sends parent the plan for initial evaluation.

April 23: Parent consents to special education evaluation.

The parent thought that she could simply “put him back in” to special education, but the school did not treat it that way.  The school considered the student a general education student who was required to take the standardized test or its alternative.  The student did not take the standardized or alternative test and was “disenrolled,” meaning he could not return to the school the following year.  The parent claimed this violated IDEA as a “disciplinary” change of placement done improperly.  Nope:

Plaintiff’s request for assessment of J.T. for special education on April 5, 2019 did not “un-do” her April 1, 2019 revocation of consent.  It also did not reinstate J.T.’s status as a special education student.  It would be incongruous with these provisions of the IDEA to automatically impute legal knowledge of J.T.’s disability on the School after Plaintiff’s refusal of services but before a second assessment.

Both the hearing officer and the court concluded that the “disenrollment” was done as per rules of general application, rather than a violation of the Code of Conduct.  Therefore it was not a “disciplinary change of placement.”  The district was not obligated to hold a meeting or conduct a manifestation determination.  Mom should have thought twice before that abrupt revocation of consent.

It’s Thomas v. Empire Springs Charter School, decided by the federal district court for the Central District of California on March 5, 2021. We found it at 78 IDELR 131.


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Tomorrow: more on the Klein ISD case…