Toolbox Tuesday!! Remember LIVE ARD Meetings?

I bet some of you are so weary of home confinement that you would pay admission to attend a three-hour ARD meeting.  Not to worry. Those days will return. And when they do it won’t be long before you look back fondly on the Zoom days when you could unobtrusively work a crossword puzzle during an ARD meeting. 

This came to mind when I reviewed a case in which a diagnostician, at a LIVE, IN PERSON ARD meeting projected the manifestation determination form on the screen for all to see.  I’ve always thought that was a good idea. After all, the documents filled out in an ARD meeting are important. It’s helpful for all of the participants to see what the form says as it is filled out.  It facilitates participation. 

The problem was that the form was already filled out. The two critical MDR questions were answered. This enabled the parents’ lawyer to later cry “foul.” 

The lawyer argued that the MDR had been predetermined, but the federal court did not agree.  School staff testified that the document was filled out just as a conversation starter.  And there was a good conversation, including a thorough review of records.  The parents’ argument was hurt by the fact that the parent was given the opportunity to speak up at the meeting, but declined to do so. Key Quotes:

The Committee asked [the dad] for comments and opinions, but he declined to provide additional information.  At the meeting, the District representatives asked [the dad’s] opinion on the manifestation link.  [The dad] did not ask any questions or provide additional information on the implementation of [the student’s] IEP. 

[The plaintiff] offers no reason to believe that the School District “would not have listened to, and considered” [the dad’s] position at the MDR meeting.  The record evidence shows that the ARD Committee considered the relevant information before it decided to adopt the draft. Without more, [the student] fails to show that the School District violated the IDEA by preparing a draft decision before the MDR meeting.

Lessons learned. The district could have avoided having to defend itself if the form had been left blank. The parent would have had a stronger case if he had taken advantage of the opportunity to participate when given the chance.

M.V. v. Conroe ISD, 75 IDELR 134 (S.D. Tex. 2019)


Tomorrow: Rip Snort Returns!!