Everyone agreed that J.B. was a troubled young boy. The school district in California identified him as having an emotional disturbance that required special education services. However, the district did not think that residential placement was called for. The boy was only in 4th grade, and the district offered a less restrictive alternative to residential placement--the Nexus program operated by the school district.
But the court held that things reached a “tipping point” in May, 2018 when the district amended the student’s IEP to call for twice-daily searches of his pockets and socks:
This intrusive form of behavior management, similar to what a criminal suspect endures rather than a 4th grade boy, was sufficient notice to Tuolumne County and Curtis Creek of Student’s declining behaviors and increasing volatility. His active fantasy life took on a darker, more foreboding presence and was reflected in the violent and fantastical drawings he produced at school…..By May 10, 2018, the evidence showed that Student required a more restrictive placement than the Nexus program.
How do you know when things have reached a “tipping point”? You don’t. It’s always a judgment call. Professional educators make that judgment on a regular basis, resulting in recommendations that IEPs be amended or placements be changed. If you are serving a student in a general education classroom and believe that things have reached a “tipping point” you can recommend an educational change of placement to a more restrictive environment. In our firm’s Toolbox Training we call that Tool #2, if it can be done with parental agreement. If the parent does not agree, the school can employ Tool #3—an educational change of placement without parental agreement.
The thing is, however, that your judgment call might be second-guessed. You think you’ve reached a “tipping point” with the student, but the parent might not agree. The other members of the ARD Committee might not agree. The hearing officer might not agree. That’s the thing about judgment calls.
In the Toolbox Training we focus on how those judgment calls are made. We don’t guarantee that you will always make the right one. No one can do that. We just offer some procedures and guidelines for how you make those calls.
This one is J.B. v. Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, decided by the federal court for the Eastern District of California on March 31, 2021. We found it on Special Ed Connection at 78 IDELR 188.
DAWG BONE: DECISIONS ABOUT TIPPING POINTS SHOULD BE BASED ON ACCURATE AND RELEVANT DATA, AS WELL AS PROFESSIONAL OPINIONS.
Tomorrow: Can the school board censure one of its members?