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Decision Number
In RE: Mellissa D.
William & Anita D., Parents
West Lyon Community School District
Full Text

This special education due process hearing involved a 13-year-old child who had been enrolled in an Iowa school district beginning in fifth grade through part of seventh grade. This child had a notable history of mental illness, had been under the care of a psychiatrist and saw a counselor regularly, and had significant school absences. During sixth grade (2004-2005 Academic Year), this child attended school irregularly until early December when the parents began to provide home schooling. At the beginning of seventh grade (2005-2006 Academic Year), the child was identified as eligible for special education services, and an IEP was developed.

The current due process hearing concerns the parents' claim that the school district failed to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) and reported the child's absences in order to prompt a child in need of assistance (CINA) petition. The parents claimed the school district and AEA personnel took these actions so the family could obtain additional services for which the school district and AEA would not be responsible financially. The child attended school only for a few days and sporadically after the IEP was developed. The family contended that the child's mental health prevented her from attending school and that homebound instruction was needed. The school district and AEA claimed that the IEP developed in the fall of 2005, which included a goal for improved school attendance and coping supports for the child while at school, were appropriate and that a physician's statement regarding need for homebound services would be necessary for those to be initiated. The school district and AEA personnel did not take steps to gather additional assessment information or to reconvene the IEP team to consider modifying the IEP.

The ALJ decided the school district and AEA failed to provide FAPE to the child because that, even though the child was not attending school, no attempts were made to gather additional assessment information, modify the IEP, or attempt a different approach on even an interim basis. However, it was found that the school district took appropriate action in reporting the child's truancy to the county attorney.

You can find the complete hearing decision at INSERT LINK. Questions? Contact Thomas Mayes ( (515)242-5614 or Dee Ann Wilson ( (515)281-5766).