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Decision Number
Maurice M.
Robin M.
Des Moines Independent Community School District & Heartland AEA 11
Full Text

Throughout his educational career, separate evaluations have determined that Maurice functions in the low or below-average range of cognitive ability. Importantly, Maurice has consistently experienced behavioral difficulties since first receiving early childhood services in 1991. One consis-tent "issue" was Maurice's anxiety and verbal aggression when he becomes emotionally overwhelmed. Both academic demands of the environment and peer stimulation can contribute to his emotional reactions.

Deb Hodges, Maurice's teacher, testified that in order to be successful, she believed Maurice needed to be closely monitored in a highly-structured environment which had the "flexibility" to meet his needs. She did not clarify why a self-contained placement at Roosevelt could not provide that environment. Another one of Maurice's teachers, Ms. Benzshawel, testified that a special school would be preferable to a special class placement because Maurice would have multiple teachers with proper training, yet confirmed that a self-contained placement had not been attempted with Maurice.

Notice of the proposed change in Maurice's program was provided to Ms. M. The staffing team at Roosevelt High School recommended that Maurice continue to have a self-contained level of service as an Entitled Individual with goals in reading, math, written language and behavior, but that these services be in a special school placement. Maurice is unresponsive to directions from staff and demonstrates severe disrespect of staff. The District's proposal to place Maurice at Scavo is the single issue of this appeal. Evidence and testimony failed to show that Maurice's goals and objectives could not be implemented at Roosevelt with the provision of adequate supplemental aids and services. The District failed to show that a more restrictive placement was necessary for Maurice to benefit from his education program.

Rather than proposing a change in placement, the school district should propose a change in the parent notification plan. The IDEA does not require school districts simply to accede to parents' demands without considering any suitable alternatives. The record does not support a need for multiple teachers, only Maurice's need for positive feedback and encouragement.

Appellant prevailed in this matter. The District could not demonstrate that the current placement at Roosevelt did not offer FAPE and that Maurice required a more restricted, segregated environment to benefit from his IEP.