A Three-Judge Panel of the Seventh Circuit Upholds Hearing Officer’s Determination That a Few Errors in Student Assessment Did Not Invalidate the Assessment

By September 13, 2018 News No Comments

On August 27, 2018, the Seventh Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision that the Chicago Public School district adequately assessed a 14-year old boy, and that a few errors in his assessment did not invalidate the entire assessment. Accordingly, the parents were not entitled to an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

B.G. was diagnosed with multiple disabilities, including a specific learning disability and repeated behavior and attendance issues. In 2014, his mother requested a due process hearing to address deficiencies in B.G.’s IEP plan, and as a result the school provided him an aide and moved him to a classroom where the teacher was familiar with “multisensory approaches to teaching reading and writing for students with dyslexia.” It was at this time that the district began evaluating B.G.’s specific educational needs. The district tested B.G. for ADHD, emotional disabilities, speech and language, physical therapy, and more. B.G. alleged that the district did not adequately assess his needs and in so doing denied him a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Seventh Circuit upheld the lower court and the hearing officer’s conclusion that all evaluations were adequate. The hearing officer conducted a five-day investigation and determined that the district evaluators were “competent, well-trained, and performed comprehensive evaluations.”

The district psychologists admitted to errors in their assessment of B.G., including primarily holding an interview with him in English when he is bilingual and a failure to explain score results in B.G.’s report. However, the Seventh Circuit agreed with the initial hearing officer and the district court’s determination that these errors were minor, and they did not invalidate the disrict’s overall assessment of B.G. Specifically, the court upheld that testing B.G. in English was proper as the examiner determined he was proficient in English, and there was no cultural or racial bias in his testing. Therefore, the court upheld the hearing officer’s determination that B.G. was not denied FAPE and was not entitled to an independent evaluation at the public’s expense.

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