A request for a due process hearing was received on December 17, 2004. The issue that prompted this proceeding is the unilateral placement of Sammy in a program for children with hearing impairments operated by Boys Town. Sammy was diagnosed with auditory neuropathy shortly after birth and began receiving early intervention and special education services approximately a month after his birth. Appellants contend that Sammy was denied FAPE in the LRE because Lewis Central and AEA 13 offered an education that was inappropriate to his needs and far more restrictive than necessary. The current dispute arose over the development of Sammy's IEP and proposed placement when Sammy is attending kindergarten.
Sammy began attending the Iowa School for the Deaf Preschool Program 3 days per week in September 2001. His IEP, developed on 2/14/02, notes that according to classroom assessments, his cognitive/developmental, gross and fine motor, social/emotional, and receptive language skills have all been developing at or above normal limits. It also noted that Sammy's expressive language and speech skills were below age level, but he was an effective communicator using sign language, gestures and speech along with facial and body expressessions. The IEP contained one goal: Samy will use 4 to 6 signed and spoken word sentences with an adult to relate needs, wants, events, or experiences with 80% accuracy once a month over 3 consecutive months. The IEP stated that he would receive speech and language services weekly and audiological services as needed. Sammy began attending the Boys Town Nation Research Hospital Preschool program in the fall of 2003. Sammy was enrolled because he was progressing at the rate that the parents thought he could.
Appellants asserted that the placement offered by the LCCSD, placement at ISD with integration into a kindergarten program at Kreft Elementary School, would not represent the LRE and would have denied him peers who use the SEE-II language system and same-age peers. Sammy is attending a classroom for children with hearing impairments located in Omaha, where the parents enrolled him unilaterally and with which they are very pleased. The goals and objectives in reading, language arts and math are reflective of general education curriculum for a kindergarten student. Sammy is involved in special education services 100% of the time each week.
This ALJ must determine whether the unilateral placement made by Appellants is appropriate to meet Sammy's needs in which case his parents would be entitled to reimbursement for costs associated with that placement. The second question that must be addressed is whether the proposed program is appropriate to meet Sammy's needs. The IEP developed and recommended placemetn are appropriate to provide FAPE for Sammy, and the appropriateness of the program in which the parents enrolled him are not an issue that needs to be addressed.
The ALJ found that the IEP developed in June 2004 was reasonably calculated to provide meaningful educational benefit in accordance with the IDEA. The IEP and recommended placement at ISD with integration into kindergarten at Lewis Central are appropriate to provide FAPE in the LRE.
Appellees prevailed in this matter and Appellants' claim for reimbursement is denied.