Hearing Officer, Relying on Endrew F., Rules that District Failed to Provide FAPE to Student by Limiting Homebound Instruction to District Policy Rather than the Student’s Individual Educational Needs

By February 2, 2018 News No Comments

In In re: Student with a Disability, 117 LRP 48756 (Sept. 23, 2017), the Hearing Officer found that the District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act by basing the Student’s homebound instruction on the District’s guidelines rather than the Student’s unique needs. As relief, the Hearing Officer ordered the District to provide 330 hours of compensatory education to the Student.

The Student, a 15-year-old diagnosed with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Status Migrainous, and Sun Downing, was unable to attend school on a consistent basis. Specifically, during the 2015-2016 school year, the Student missed 81.50 days out of 191 school days; during the 2016-2017 school year, the Student was absent 104.5 days out of 116 school days. During this time, due to the Student’s illnesses and significant emotional dysregulation, the Student was also hospitalized on multiple occasions.

The District, through its Home and Hospital Instruction Program (“HHIP”), provided intermittent homebound instruction to the Student from September 2016 through the 2017-2018 school year. However, per HHIP’s guidelines, homebound services were only provided to the Student after school hours, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. due to teachers’ schedules, despite the Student’s known diagnosis of Sun Downing, which resulted in angry outbursts later in the day and an inability to attend to lecture and assignments. In total, due to scheduling conflicts and the Student’s illnesses, the Student only received 49 tutoring session in the 180-day school year for 2016-2017; the District did not offer to make up any of the missed tutoring sessions.

Relying on Endrew F., the Hearing Officer found that the District failed to provide the Student with FAPE. Specifically, the District failed to design a homebound program that was unique to the Student’s educational needs and reasonably calculated to enable the Student to make progress appropriate in light of the Student’s circumstances. As such, the Hearing Officer ordered the District to provide 330 hours of compensatory education to the Student for one hour per day between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. by a certified special education teacher.

Based on this Hearing Officer’s ruling, school districts should ensure that IEP teams fully consider a student’s unique circumstances and develop programming that addresses each student’s individualized educational needs. Moreover, school districts should be flexible with their service models when planning and providing home/hospital instruction to students.

Please contact Jessica T. Nguyen with any questions regarding requests for home/hospital instruction.

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