“We have bent over backwards trying to please this parent.”

I bet some of you have said that more than once.  I know I have heard it so often from special education directors that I have come to think of it as the “call the chiropractor” defense. 

Working hard to earn the parents’ trust is important, but sometimes “bending over backwards” can hurt more than your back.  It can come back to haunt you in a legal dispute.  So let’s look at the case from Klein ISD which we discussed on Monday.  In Monday’s Dawg post we focused on Child Find.  Today: let’s talk about collaboration with the parents, and when collaboration becomes capitulation. 

The hearing officer thought the district went too far, capitulating to a parent demand that did not serve the student.  Thus the hearing officer held that the district failed to “collaborate.”  The federal court reversed that ruling:

The mere fact that KISD deferred to the parents and included unnecessary dyslexia services in the IEP does not, in my view, demonstrate a lack of collaboration.  It represents an attempt by KISD to bend over backwards to be accommodating.

The parents were very insistent on dyslexia services, and so the district provided them “despite there being no credible evidence that D.C. had dyslexia.”  Apparently this did no harm, but it also did not benefit the student.   The court then noted that all of the members of the ARD Committee, including the mother, described the process as collaborative. So this part of the decision came out just fine for the district, but it’s a good illustration of the fact that doing what the parent wants is not a failsafe strategy.

This is D.C. v. Klein ISD decided by the federal court for the Southern District of Texas on May 29, 2020.  We found it in Special Ed Connection at 76 IDELR 208.


Tomorrow: FERPA