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Stepp v. The Midd-West School District

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

February 23, 2015

DIANNA STEPP and MICHAEL STEPP, on behalf of M.S., Plaintiffs
v.
THE MIDD-WEST SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

SUSAN E. SCHWAB, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction.

The plaintiffs, Deanna and Michael Stepp (parents) on behalf of their son, M.S., appeal from two decisions of the Due Process Hearing Officer pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They also present a claim under the Rehabilitation Act. Before the Court is a motion for judgment on the administrative record filed by the parents and a motion for judgment on the administrative record and/or summary judgment filed by the defendant, the Midd-West School District (School District). After carefully considering the entire administrative record, we agree with the findings and decisions of the Hearing Officer. Accordingly, we will deny the parents' motion and grant the School District's motion.

II. Background and Procedural History.

Due to academic and behavior concerns, M.S.'s parents requested that the School District evaluate M.S. to determine whether he was eligible for special education services.[1] The School District completed an initial evaluation report in May of 2011 concluding that M.S. was eligible for special education services, and it found that M.S. was eligible based on "other health impairment."[2] In June of 2011, the School District issued an Individualized Education Program (IEP), which changed M.S.'s placement to a different elementary school that purportedly would provide better access to behavior and math support services. The parents approved the IEP. The School District issued a second IEP on October 11, 2011, which the parents also approved. The School District then completed a functional behavior assessment of M.S. and drafted a positive behavior support plan dated December 15, 2011. The parents approved the positive behavior support plan.

M.S.'s parents had him evaluated by a clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Dowell, who diagnosed M.S. with a nonverbal learning disability. The parents provided Dr. Dowell's January 5, 2012 report to the School District and requested that the School District conduct a reevaluation of M.S. The School District agreed to a reevaluation, but it rejected the parents' request for an IEP meeting in February of 2012. The School District conducted a reevaluation of M.S., and it issued a reevaluation report dated March 23, 2012. The parents disagreed with the reevaluation report and requested an independent educational evaluation at public expense.

After the parents requested an independent educational evaluation at public expense, the School District filed an administrative due process complaint claiming that an independent educational evaluation was not necessary because, during the past 12 months, it had evaluated and reevaluated M.S. and it was providing multiple supports for M.S. The parents also later filed an administrative due process complaint claiming that the School District denied M.S. a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and discriminated against him during the 2011-2012 school year. They sought compensatory education for M.S.

Both administrative complaints were decided by the same Hearing Officer, who conducted a hearing as to each complaint. By a decision dated August 20, 2012, the Hearing Officer found that the School District's reevaluation of M.S. was appropriate, and, thus, the School District was not required to pay for an independent educational evaluation. By a decision dated August 25, 2015, the Hearing Officer found that near the end of the 2011-2012 school year the School District denied M.S. a FAPE by denying M.S.'s mother a meaningful opportunity to participate in the educational process. But because the denial of a FAPE was limited to the last portion of the school year and resulted in M.S. not receiving social work services as set forth in his IEP, he awarded only four hours of compensatory education to make up for the lost social work services.

On November 18, 2012, the parents began this action- Stepp v. Midd-West School District, 4:12-CV-2290 (M.D.Pa.)-by filing a complaint appealing the August 20, 2012 decision of the Hearing Officer finding that M.S. was not eligible for an independent educational evaluation paid for by the School District. A few days later, the parents began another action- Stepp v. Mid-West School District, 4:12-CV-02348 (M.D.Pa.)-appealing the August 25, 2012 decision of the Hearing Officer finding that M.S. is entitled to only four hours of compensatory education for the 2011-2012 school year. After the School District filed an answer in each case, Judge Brann consolidated the cases under docket number 4:12-CV-2290. The parties then consented to proceed before a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and the case was referred to the undersigned.

The parties filed motions for judgment on the administrative record, but later, with the consent of the parties, we referred the case to Chief Magistrate Judge Carlson for a settlement conference. After Judge Carlson reported that the parties settled this case, we issued an order dismissing the case without costs and without prejudice to the right of either party, upon good cause shown, to reinstate the action within 60 days if the settlement is not consummated. Later, the parties informed the court that the settlement was not consummated, and after a telephone conference with counsel, we reopened the case and set a deadline for the parties to file new motions for judgment on the administrative record. The School District then filed a motion for judgment on the administrative record and/or summary judgment and the parents filed a motion for judgment on the administrative record. Those motions have been fully briefed. For the reasons set forth below, we will grant the School District's motion and deny the parents' motion.

III. OVERVIEW OF IDEA FRAMEWORK AND STANDARD OF REVIEW.

Congress enacted the IDEA to inter alia "ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). "States receiving federal funding for assistance in the education of children with disabilities under the IDEA are responsible for providing a FAPE to any students who are identified as learning disabled until they reach 21 years of age." Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 267 (3d Cir. 2014).

The IDEA defines a FAPE as:

special education and related services that-(A) have been provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; (B) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (C) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education in the State involved; and (D) are provided in conformity with the individualized education program required under section 1414(d) of this title.

20 U.S.C. § 1401(9). "Special education" is "specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability." 20 U.S.C.A. § 1401(29). In addition to the FAPE requirement, the IDEA provides that states must establish procedures that assure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5).

The IDEA establishes a collaborative process between parents and schools. Ridley Sch. Dist. v. M.R., 680 F.3d 260, 269 (3d Cir. 2012). A school district must collaborate with the student's parents to design an IEP for the student, and the IEP is the primary vehicle for providing students with the required FAPE. Id .; S.H. v. State-Operated School of Dist. of the City of Newark, 336 F.3d 260, 264 (3d Cir. 2003). "The IEP consists of a detailed written statement arrived at by a multi-disciplinary team summarizing the child's abilities, outlining the goals for the child's education and specifying the services the child will receive." Polk v. Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit 16, 853 F.2d 171, 173 (3d Cir. 1988). The IEP must provide the student with a "basic floor of opportunity, " but it is not required to provide an "optimal level of services." D.S. v. Bayonne Bd. of Educ., 602 F.3d 553, 557 (3d Cir. 2010)(quoting Holmes v. Millcreek Twp. Sch. Dist., 205 F.3d 583, 590 (3d Cir. 2000) and Carlisle Area Sch. v. Scott P. By & Through Bess P., 62 F.3d 520, 534 (3d Cir. 1995)).

The IDEA imposes numerous procedural safeguards to ensure proper development of the IEP and to protect the rights of parents to challenge the IEP. Bd. of Educ. of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 205-07 (1982). While a school district must comply with the IDEA's procedural requirements, "compliance is not a goal in itself; rather, compliance with such procedural requirements is important because of the requirements' impact on students' and parents' substantive rights.'" Ridley, 680 F.3d at 274 (quoting D.S., 602 F.3d at 565). Thus, "[a] procedural violation is actionable under the IDEA only if it results in a loss of educational opportunity for the student, seriously deprives parents of their participation rights, or causes a deprivation of educational benefits." D.S, 602 F.3d at 565.

A parent that thinks that an IEP is inappropriate may seek an administrative due process hearing. D.S., 602 F.3d at 557. While most requests for due process hearings are made by parents, in certain situations, a school district may also seek an administrative due process hearing. Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 53 (2005). At the administrative level, the burden of proof is on the party seeking relief. Id. at 62. "A party to the due process hearing aggrieved by its outcome has the right to bring a civil action challenging the decision in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a federal district court, without regard to the amount in controversy." D.S., 602 F.3d at 558 (citing 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)). At the district-court level, the burden of proof is on the party challenging the administrative decision. Ridley, 680 F.3d at 270.

In actions brought under the IDEA, "the court-(i) shall receive the records of the administrative proceedings; (ii) shall hear additional evidence at the request of a party; and (iii) basing its decision on the preponderance of the evidence, shall grant such relief as the court determines is appropriate." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C). A district court may exclude additional evidence for a particular reason such as when it is cumulative or is an improper embellishment of testimony previously given at the administrative hearing. See Bernardsville Bd. of Educ. v. J.H., 42 F.3d 149, 161 (3d Cir. 1994). "While a district court appropriately may exclude additional evidence, it must exercise particularized discretion in its rulings so that it will consider evidence relevant, non-cumulative and useful in determining whether Congress' goal has been reached for the child involved." Susan N. v. Wilson School Dist., 70 F.3d 751, 760 (3d Cir. 1995).

The standard a court uses under the IDEA to review a Hearing Officer's decision is unique. The court applies a modified de novo standard of review. S.H., 336 F.3d at 270. In reviewing the decision of a Hearing Officer under the IDEA, the district court must make its own findings by a preponderance of the evidence. Shore Regional High School Bd. of Educ. V. P.S., 381 F.3d 194, 199 (3d Cir. 2004). But, in order to prevent district courts from imposing their own views of preferable educational methods on the states, the court must give "due weight" to the administrative proceedings. Rowley, 458 U.S. at 205-06. "Under this standard, [f]actual findings from the administrative proceedings are to be considered prima facie correct, ' and [i]f a reviewing court fails to adhere to them, it is obliged to explain why.'" Shore Regional, 381 F.3d at 199 (quoting S.H., 336 F.3d at 271). The court must accept credibility determinations made by the state agency unless the non-testimonial, extrinsic evidence in the record would justify a contrary conclusion. Id. "In this context the word "justify" demands essentially the same standard of review given to a trial court's findings of fact by a federal appellate court." Id. An appellate court reviews the district court's factual findings for clear error. Id. A finding of fact is clearly erroneous when, after reviewing the evidence, the court is left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed. Id. Where the district court hears additional evidence, however, it is "free to accept or reject the agency findings depending on whether those findings are supported by the new, expanded record and whether they are consistent with the requirements of the Act.'" S.H., 336 F.3d at 270 (quoting Oberti v. Bd. of Educ., 995 F.2d, 1204, 1220 (3d Cir. 1993)). The hearing officer's legal conclusions are subject to plenary review. A.W. ex rel. H.W. v. Middletown Area Sch. Dist., No. 1:13-CV-2379, 2015 WL 390864, at *8 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 28, 2015).

IV. Independent Educational Evaluation.

The parents challenge the August 20, 2012 decision of the Hearing Officer finding that M.S. was not entitled to an independent educational evaluation paid for by the School District.

An independent education evaluation is "an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the public agency responsible for the education of the child in question." 34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(3)(i). If a parent disagrees with an evaluation by the public agency, the parent has a right to an independent educational evaluation, and unless the public agency files a due process complaint and establishes that its evaluation was appropriate; the public agency must pay for the independent educational evaluation. Id. at §300.502(b). But if it is determined "that the agency's evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an independent educational evaluation, but not at public expense." Id. at §300.502(b)(3).

"The school district must conduct an evaluation of the student's needs, assessing all areas of suspected disability, before providing special education and related services to the child." P.P. ex rel. Michael P. v. W. Chester Area Sch. Dist., 585 F.3d 727, 730 (3d Cir. 2009). The IDEA imposes a number of requirements for evaluations and reevaluations by a public agency. In conducting an evaluation, the agency must: "use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information;" "not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining" an appropriate educational program; and "use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors." 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(2)(A)-(C). In addition, the agency must, among other things, ensure that assessments are conducted by trained and knowledgeable personnel; that the child is assessed in all areas of suspected disability; and that "assessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining the educational needs of the child are provided." Id. at § 1414(b)(3). The IEP team and other appropriate qualified professionals must also review existing data on the child and identify if any additional data is needed to determine: whether the child has a disability, the "present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the child, " whether the child needs special education and related services, and whether additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable the child to meet the goals set forth in the child's IEP and to enable the child to appropriately participate in the general education curriculum. Id. at § 1414(c).

A. The Administrative Record and the Hearing Officer's Findings and Conclusions.

The Hearing Officer held a hearing on the School District's administrative due process complaint. Four witnesses testified at the hearing: (1) Tara Pierce, the School District's school psychologist, who testified about the School District's initial evaluation of M.S., about the reevaluation of M.S. in March of 2012, about Dr. Dowell's report and his diagnosis of a nonverbal learning disability, and about how the School District was already implementing many of the recommendations of Dr. Dowell; (2) Dr. David Fassett, the School District's Supervisor of Special Education, who testified about the number of times that M.S. had been evaluated in the past year, about his opinion that there was no need for another evaluation, and about his decision to limit M.S.'s mother's communications with the IEP team; (3) Deanna Stepp, M.S.'s mother, who testified about M.S.'s problems in the 2011-2012 school year, about Dr. Dowell's evaluation, about the limit on her communication with the IEP team, about her request for an independent education evaluation and her reasons for that request, and about the independent educational evaluation of M.S. by Alan Babcock in May of 2012; and (4) Alan Babcock, [3] the private school psychologist who performed an independent educational evaluation on M.S., and who testified about his evaluation and testing of M.S. and about the School District's shortcomings in their testing and recommendations as to M.S. The parties also entered numerous documents into evidence at the hearing.

By a decision dated August 20, 2012, the Hearing Officer determined that M.S. was not eligible for an independent educational evaluation paid for by the School District because the March 2012 reevaluation by the School District was appropriate.

1. The Hearing Officer's Findings of Fact.

Based on the testimony at the hearing, the Hearing Officer found the following facts. The School District's initial evaluation of M.S. in May of 2011 "was a wide ranging evaluation the considered both behavior and academic skills." Doc. 3, Exhibit 11, at ¶17. The School District considered input by M.S.'s mother, who was concerned about M.S.'s lack of focus and his poor math skills, as well as observations of M.S. by the school counselor, the school psychologist, a school psychologist intern, and M.S.'s third-grade teacher. Id. The School District also considered M.S.'s grades and school assessments. Id. The school psychologist administered various tests and assessments, which revealed that M.S. had a full-scale IQ of 90 (within the average range) and that while some of his math scores on an academic achievement test were low, M.S. performed better on later math assessments. Id. The school psychologist also interviewed M.S. Id. M.S.'s teacher completed the Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents and the Scale for Assessing Emotional Disturbance. Id. Both M.S.'s teacher and his mother rated him using the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC), and M.S.'s adaptive behaviors were within the average range. Id. M.S.'s teacher emphasized to the school psychologist that M.S. had problems focusing, but he responded well when she tried adaptations in the classroom to help him focus. Id.

The October 11, 2011 IEP placed M.S. in the regular education classroom for 93% of the school day for fourth grade. Id. at ¶18. The IEP provided for specially designed instruction and goals to help M.S. with his focus and provided additional support during his math class. Id. Also, M.S. spent the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of his school day in the emotional support classroom. Id. The learning support instructional assistant was available to help M.S. during his math class. Id. The IEP also included the related service of counseling with the school social worker for 30-minute sessions, once every cycle. Id. The IEP further provided that a behavior support plan was to be adopted later, and it designated Dr. Fassett as the single point of contact for M.S.'s mother to express her concerns about the IEP. Id.

The School District conducted a functional behavioral assessment of M.S. on December 15, 2011, and based on that assessment, it developed a positive behavior support plan designed to address M.S.'s social and behavioral issues. Id. at ¶19.

M.S.'s parents obtained a neuropsychological assessment of M.S. from Dr. Dowell. Id. at ¶20. Dr. Dowell conducted his assessment of M.S. on December 14, 2011 and January 5, 2012. Id. He concluded that M.S. had a nonverbal learning disorder and an adjustment reaction with mixed disturbance of emotions and conduct. Id. Dr. Dowell noted that the family history was remarkable for significant problems including aggression, depression, anxiety or adjustment problems, panic disorder, and arrests/incarceration. Id. Some of the test scores obtained by Dr. Dowell were invalid, and he made no specific academic recommendations because he did not do any academic testing as part of his assessment of M.S. Id. Dr. Dowell recommended a follow-up evaluation and development of an intervention plan by a specific school psychologist-Alan Babcock. Id. Dr. Dowell's report contains other recommendations based upon general characteristics of children with nonverbal learning disabilities. Id. M.S.'s mother provided Dr. Dowell's report to the School District's school psychologist and special education director, but she did not provide it to the other IEP team members because she felt that the report was sensitive and she did not want other staff to see it. Id. at ¶21.

As a result of M.S.'s mother providing Dr. Dowell's report to certain members of the IEP team, the school district conducted a reevaluation of M.S. Id. at ¶22. The School District's school psychologist-Tara Pierce-conducted a records review of the School District's previous assessments, which were less than a year old, and she concluded that no new data was necessary. Id. at ¶23. She did, however, obtain updated parent and teacher input and she reviewed the functional behavioral assessment and the positive behavior support plan, which the School District had developed with the assistance of the intermediate unit. Id. Pierce also considered classroom-based assessments and M.S.'s current grades as well as observations made by M.S.'s regular education classroom teacher, his learning support teacher, his emotional support teacher, and the school social worker. Id. M.S.'s teachers and providers all felt that he was making progress and that his current specially designed instruction and IEP as well as the positive behavior support plan were adequately meeting M.S.'s needs academically, behaviorally, and socially. Id. The School District also completed an addendum to the reevaluation report concluding that M.S. did not have a specific learning disability. Id.

As part of the reevaluation, Pierce summarized Dr. Dowell's report and concluded that while M.S. had some characteristics of a nonverbal learning disability, he did not have other characteristics. Id. at ¶24. One characteristic of a nonverbal learning disability that M.S. did not demonstrate was problems with visual perception. Id. M.S. received average to above average scores in interpreting charts, tables, and graphs when Pierce performed, in connection with the initial evaluation, additional math assessments on him. Id. M.S. did not have problems with visual perceptual issues. Id. Pierce noted that the School District had already implemented in M.S.'s educational program most of the recommendations made by Dr. Dowell. Id. She concluded that M.S. was progressing within the regular education environment with the supports and services in his IEP and that his needs were being addressed by his work with the social worker and the emotional support teacher as well has by his positive behavior support plan. Id. Pierce encouraged the IEP team to focus on M.S.'s needs rather than his diagnosis. Id

On March 28, 2012, the IEP team met to discuss the School District's reevaluation report. Id. at ¶25. At that meeting, M.S.'s mother and her attorney expressed concerns that based on Dr. Dowell's report, M.S.'s disability eligibility category needed to be changed from other health impairment to specific learning disability. Id. Also, at that meeting, Tara Pierce expressed concerns about Dr. Dowell's evaluation. Id.

On April 19, 2012, M.S.'s parents sent a letter to Dr. Fassett requesting an independent educational evaluation at public expense, and in that letter, they described their concerns that the disability eligibility category on M.S.'s IEP was incorrect and should be changed to specific learning disability based on the diagnosis made by Dr. Dowell. Id. at ¶26. Noting that, in the third marking period, M.S.'s grades dropped from C to D in spelling and from B to D in social studies, the parents expressed their concern that M.S. continued to struggle academically. Id. They requested an independent education evaluation by Alan Babcock, the same school psychologist named in Dr. Dowell's report. Id.

M.S.'s mother felt that the School District's reevaluation was not complete. Id. at ¶27. She wanted the School District to incorporate into M.S.'s IEP the diagnosis and recommendations made by Dr. Dowell, and, in particular, she wanted M.S.'s disability eligibility category changed from "other health impaired" to "specific learning disability." Id.

Dr. Fassett sent a letter to M.S.'s parents declining to provide an independent educational evaluation at public expense. Id. at ¶28. Concerning the category of disability, Dr. Fassett stated that "identification does not drive placement in his district and... [M.S.] is getting all the learning support services he would get if he was identified [as] having a specific learning disability." Id. Dr. Fassett also noted that M.S. had been tested a number of times within the last year. Id. The School District refused the request for an independent educational evaluation at public expense because it concluded that it was not necessary. Id. Prior to sending the rejection letter, Dr. Fassett conferred with Tara Pierce and other members of M.S's IEP team. Id.

The parents had Alan Babcock conduct an independent educational evaluation of M.S. in May of 2012. Id. at ¶30. In an unfinished draft report, [4] Babcock concluded that M.S.'s disability category should be changed. Id. Babcock's reason for that conclusion was that it would help M.S.'s mother, who was an anxious person, feel included. Id. Babcock also concluded that M.S. did not have ADHD. Id. Babcock's report contains numerous recommendations, many of which were already in place for M.S. in the educational program developed for him by the School District. Id.

Toward the end of the 2011-2012 school year, M.S. had a number of behavior incidents, many of which had a sexual component. Id. at ¶31. At the end of April of 2012, M.S. was disciplined for telling another student that he wanted to have sex and to make babies with her. Id. On two occasions in early May, M.S. engaged in inappropriate sex talk. Id. On another occasion, he told a student that he wanted to have kids with her and to "go at it" in bed, and he engaged in name calling. Id. In early May of 2012, two girls accused him of sexual harassment saying that he made lewd and inappropriate statements to them. Id. A few days later, he used lewd and inappropriate language with a young girl. Id. In mid-May, he was accused of sexual harassment for making lewd and inappropriate statements to two students and saying that he would kill their parents so that they would have to watch them die. Id.

School District personnel twice reported M.S.'s parents to Children and Youth Services as a result of M.S.'s inappropriate sexual conduct. Id. Near the end of April, an investigator with Child and Youth Services interviewed M.S. about doing inappropriate things with his hands and visiting inappropriate websites. Id. M.S. admitted those behaviors. Id. The complaint based on those incidents was later closed without adverse action. Id. Near the end of May, the investigator investigated another incident, which M.S. denied. Id.

Beginning when he was in second grade, M.S.'s mother arranged for him to receive private counseling. Id. at ¶32. That private counseling continued once a week through the date of the due process hearing. Id. M.S.'s mother did not share information about the private counseling with the School District. Id.

M.S.'s report card for the 2011-2012 school year contained the following final grades for his work in his regular education classroom: C in reading; D in writing/grammar; C in mathematics; D in spelling; C in social studies; B in science; A in art, A in physical education, and A in music. Id. at ¶33.

At the time the parents requested an independent educational evaluation, M.S. was making meaningful educational progress and his specially designed instruction and IEP as well as his positive behavior support plan were adequately meeting his needs academically, behaviorally, and socially. Id. at ¶34.

From October of 20011 through the end of the 2011-2012 school year, Dr. Fassett required M.S.'s mother to communicate only with him concerning matters affecting M.S.'s IEP. Id. at ¶35. The School District thought that M.S.'s mother was making too many demands on district staff and wanted to have one point of contact so that all information shared would be the same. Id. The School District did not attempt to meet with M.S.'s mother to attempt to resolve the issue or limit the number of communications before announcing at one of the IEP team meetings that Dr. Fassett would be the sole point of contact for IEP purposes. Id.

2. The Hearing Officer's Conclusions of Law.

The Hearing Officer concluded that the School District met its burden of establishing that its revaluation of M.S. in March of 2012 was appropriate. In so concluding, he found the testimony of Tara Pierce regarding how she conducted the reevaluation credible and he noted that her testimony was corroborated by the documentary evidence. The Hearing Officer also found that the School District's reevaluation report thoroughly documented the comprehensive reevaluation process described by Pierce. Further, the Hearing Officer concluded that although the School District was not required to accept Dr. Dowell's diagnosis, it did consider Dr. Dowell's report:

... [T]he law does not require that the school district make changes to the student's IEP in order to reflect the diagnosis made by the neuropsychologist and endorsed by the parents' expert school psychologist, that is that the student had a nonverbal learning disability. Under IDEA, a medical practitioner, or other expert, may not simply prescribe special education or components of an IEP; rather, the IEP team must consider all relevant factors. A school district is required to consider any evaluation or other input provided by a parent, and the record evidence in this case reveals that the school district did consider the opinion of the neuropsychologist that the student had a nonverbal disability, but rejected his conclusion based upon the fact that he did not do any academic testing and that his recommendations were very general, and that it was based upon the disability category rather than upon the individual needs of the student, and that the student did not ...

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