Toolbox Tuesday!! Here’s a Tool #3 case!

Tool #3 in our firm’s Toolbox is an Educational Change of Placement Without Parental Agreement. The Toolbox is about serving students appropriately when they engage in inappropriate behavior. So we speak of Tool #3 most often in the context of a student whose disruptive behavior warrants a change of placement.  But sometimes it’s as much about academics as behavior, or the two are intertwined. 

A district in Pennsylvania used Tool #3 to move a student to a more restrictive environment. The parent objected, took the case to a hearing officer and then to a federal court.  The court upheld the ruling of the hearing officer in favor of the change of placement to a more restrictive setting. The court held that the district based this on years’ of data showing that 1) the student had struggled to perform in the mainstream classroom; 2) the district provided an array of supplementary aids and services; and 3) the student’s presence in the general classroom led to greater distraction for him and others.  The main point was the lack of academic progress.  Key Quote:

…the district determined that J.W. should spend less time in a regular education classroom only after years of data showed that he struggled to make progress in such an environment and that his academic achievement continued to lag further and further behind that of his peers.

Notice how the district proved the three essential facts in a Tool #3 case: 1) this is not working; 2) we’ve tried; and 3) what we are proposing will be better for the student.  It’s Wishard v. Waynesboro Area School District, decided by the federal court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on August 21, 2020.     We found it on Special Ed Connection at 77 IDELR 65.

One more aspect of this case is Dawg-worthy.  Tune in tomorrow. 


Tomorrow: Why the court disregarded the expert’s input….