Henry and Bedford Public Schools – #07-1190
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
BUREAU OF SPECIAL EDUCATION APPEALS
In re: Henry1 and Bedford Public Schools
RULING ON PARENT’S MOTION FOR STAY-PUT PLACEMENT
This Ruling is rendered pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 USC 1400 et seq.), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794), the state special education law (MGL ch. 71B), the state Administrative Procedure Act (MGL ch. 30A) and the regulations promulgated under these statutes.
On August 17, 2006, Parent filed a hearing request with the Bureau of Special Education Appeals regarding Bedford Public Schools’ (Bedford) proposed educational placement for Henry. Bedford had proposed a special education day school placement as the appropriate placement in the least restrictive setting (FAPE); Parent asserts that special education services within Henry’s neighborhood elementary school – the Davis School, would address his special education needs in the least restrictive setting and that this would provide FAPE.
During an August 28, 2006 telephonic conference call with the Hearing Officer, Parent, and Bedford’s counsel, Parent asserted that until this case is resolved, the last agreed-upon educational placement was the Davis School, and that Henry should “stay-put” there, beginning on September 5 th , until this case is resolved. Bedford disagreed with this, stating that the stay-put placement would be at the Dearborn School, a special education day school connected to the STEP diagnostic program where Henry had been attending. A Motion Session was scheduled for August 31, 2006 to address this dispute, and was held at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals in Malden, Massachusetts. At that time, Bedford stated that Henry could attend either the Dearborn School or the STEP program that had been modified to provide the services on his educational plan.
The record consists of School Exhibits 1 – 11 and Joint Exhibit 1, and approximately one and one half hours of recorded testimony from Parent and the Special Education Administrator.
Based on the evidentiary record, the Hearing Officer determined that the stay-put placement was at the STEP program, as modified for Henry, for this is the placement that he attended during the last school year until June of 2006. (The first four months were devoted to evaluations, and beginning in March, this evaluative setting was modified to become Henry’s placement where he received his educational services.) At the motion session, Parent raised concerns as to whether she was aware of her procedural rights when she signed the IEP calling for this placement at STEP. Despite these concerns, however, this was the placement where Henry received his educational services. Both parties recognized that he was benefiting from those services. Until the dispute regarding FAPE is resolved, this is in fact the last placement both parties agreed to, and it is prudent that Henry remain there. Congress’ provision that a student stay in the last agreed upon placement pending resolution of a dispute, is intended to shield students from changing programs more than necessary. See 34 CFR §300.518. In this case, Henry is shielded from potentially being moved twice – once to the Davis School, and potentially again, to the placement ultimately deemed appropriate for him.
A hearing regarding the dispute as to FAPE will convene on September 19, 2006 at 9:30 a.m. at the Bureau of Special Education Appeals, 11 Dartmouth Street, Malden, MA.
By the Hearing Officer,
Date: September 15, 2006
“Henry” is a pseudonym selected by the Hearing Officer for the student in order to protect his privacy in publicly available documents.