Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lauren C. v. Lewisville Independent School District

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

June 29, 2017

LAUREN C., BY AND THROUGH HER NEXT FRIEND, TRACEY K.
v.
LEWISVILLE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court are Defendant Lewisville Independent School District's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Dkt. #24) and Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Dkt. #25). Having considered the pleadings and the administrative record, the Court finds that Defendant Lewisville Independent School District's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Dkt. #24) is hereby granted. Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Dkt. #25) is hereby denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Lauren C. is a student with disabilities who lives with her mother, Tracey K., in Lewisville, Texas (Dkt. #25 at p. 1). At the time of the administrative due process hearing below, Plaintiff was twenty-one years old and attended school in the Lewisville Independent School District (“LISD”) in Lewisville, Texas (Dkt. #25 at p. 1). LISD is the resident school district for Plaintiff, and it is responsible for providing her with a Free Appropriate Public Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq. (the “IDEA”).

         Plaintiff first attended school in the LISD in 1998. Since enrolling in the LISD, private practitioners and the LISD conducted many evaluations of Plaintiff (AR 1176-1179). Some of these evaluations diagnosed Plaintiff with autism, and others did not (AR 1176-1179). Plaintiff's physician, Dr. Denise Wooten (“Dr. Wooten”) diagnosed Plaintiff with Mental Retardation and autism in 2002 (AR 1176-1179; AR 1323). In 2002, the LISD conducted an evaluation of Plaintiff as required by the IDEA for the provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability (the “Full and Individual Evaluation”) (AR 1178). The Full and Individual Evaluation included a psychological evaluation that found that Plaintiff's Childhood Autism Rating Scale “fell within the non-autistic range” (AR 1178). The evaluation concluded that Plaintiff did not meet the diagnostic criteria for Autistic Disorder as the examiner noted Plaintiff “is highly social and very aware of others around her. She exhibits verbal and nonverbal communication to spontaneously seek joint attention.” (AR 1178).

         On November 8, 2005, when Plaintiff was eleven years old, the LISD conducted another Full and Individual Evaluation of Plaintiff (AR 1141). A licensed psychologist, a licensed speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a student evaluation specialist evaluated Plaintiff for autism (AR 1141, 1148-49). The multidisciplinary autism team found that Plaintiff did not demonstrate characteristics of autism and found that Plaintiff qualified for special education services as a student with an intellectual disability and speech impairment (AR 1150). On February 26, 2010, the LISD conducted another Full Individual Evaluation of Plaintiff that again found that Plaintiff met the criteria of a student with an intellectual disability and speech impairment (AR 1179).

         On February 25, 2013, the LISD conducted another Full Individual Evaluation of Plaintiff (AR 1174-1221). The evaluation team determined that Plaintiff “does not demonstrate qualitative deficits in social communication or reciprocity beyond what are accounted for by her intellectual disability; therefore, she does not meet the diagnostic criteria for the disability condition of Autism” (AR 1209). The evaluation recommended speech therapy, occupational therapy, strategies to address behavioral difficulties, social skill instruction, and strategies to assist with attention, following directives, and completing tasks (AR 1211-1213).

         On March 26, 2013, Plaintiff's Admission, Review, and Dismissal committee (the “ARD Committee”) met to review Plaintiffs progress, eligibility, and placement (AR 1253-1255). The ARD Committee reviewed a private psychological evaluation by Dr. Denise Wooten that diagnosed Plaintiff as a student with autism and mild to moderate Mental Retardation (AR 1253). The ARD Committee found that Plaintiff did not meet eligibility as a student with autism (AR 1253). Plaintiff's parents expressed disagreement with regard to the autism eligibility and the meeting ended in non-consensus (AR 1254). Plaintiff's parents “expressed agreement with the proposed [Individual Education Program] goals, accommodations, and schedule of services and had no concerns or disagreement with the program as proposed.” (AR 1254). Plaintiff's parents “were not concerned with the Autism supplement and their goal was not to obtain any additional services from the school system, but wanted the Autism eligibility added in order to ensure optimal services from [the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services], [Supplemental Security Income], and other agencies in the future.” (AR 1254).

         On April 5, 2013, the ARD Committee reconvened to address Plaintiff's parents' concerns over the request for autism eligibility (AR 1255). Dr. Key, a member of the ARD Committee, stated that during the recess she faxed Plaintiff's evaluation to Dr. Wooten (AR 1255). Dr. Key called Dr. Wooten's office, but was unable to speak with Dr. Wooten (AR 1255). Dr. Key also stated she spoke with Plaintiff's pediatrician, Dr. Naylor, who diagnosed Plaintiff with Mental Retardation/Developmental Delay, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and epilepsy (AR 1278-79). However, Dr. Naylor did not conduct an evaluation for autism (AR 1255). The ARD Committee concluded that it stood by the evaluation that Plaintiff did not qualify as a student with autism (AR 1255). Plaintiff's parents disagreed with the ARD Committee's conclusion and requested an Independent Educational Evaluation for the diagnosis of autism (AR 1280).

         On August 17, 2013, Dr. Kim Johnson, Psy.D. (“Dr. Johnson”) conducted Plaintiff's Independent Educational Evaluation (AR 1323-1328). Dr. Johnson found that Plaintiff manifested behaviors “characteristic of individuals with Autism with regard to stereotyped behavior, communication, and social interaction.” (AR 1326; 1327). Plaintiff's “Autism Quotient” demonstrated an “above average degree of probability of autism” (AR 1326). Dr. Johnson noted that Plaintiff's “progress and development resulted in some ‘partially remitted' symptoms or an atypical presentation of Autism.” Dr. Johnson noted that although Plaintiff's autism symptoms may have “partially remitted, ” Plaintiff's clinical diagnoses were both Moderate Mental Retardation and autism (AR 1327).

         Dr. Johnson further stated that Plaintiff displayed “some Autistic behaviors within the school setting that would not necessarily manifest if she only had the diagnosis of [Mental Retardation], Moderate. [Plaintiff] manifests some partially-remitted autistic behaviors . . . but also continues to manifest some classic autistic behaviors . . .” (AR 1328). Dr. Johnson noted Plaintiff's “exceptional recall of facts and information and completing puzzles that is not typically seen in an individual with Moderate Mental Retardation due to the more evenly cognitive deficit pattern that is characteristic of the disorder.” (AR 1328). Dr. Johnson concluded as follows:

After review of the recent [Individual Education Program] in February 2013, the LISD evaluation team completed a comprehensive evaluation with very appropriate recommendations to address Lauren's intellectual, social, behavioral, speech- related, and occupational therapy-related delays-these cannot currently be improved upon and space will not be wasted in this report merely to repeat them here. Likewise, [Plaintiff's mother] made no complaint about the type and quality of services provided by the District; rather, her concern was over the diagnostic label.”

(AR 1328). Dr. Johnson reiterated that Plaintiff was a student “with an Intellectual Disability and Autism.” (AR 1328).

         On September 12, 2013, the ARD Committee met to consider Dr. Johnson's Independent Educational Evaluation (AR 1336-37). The ARD Committee stated that Plaintiff's special education teacher noted Plaintiff “does interact and enjoys social interaction with her peers.” (AR 1337). The ARD Committee also noted that the LISD's “psychologist reviewed the history of diagnoses for [Plaintiff] including the reports from Dr. Wooten. The district has completed 3 comprehensive evaluations since her enrollment in LISD and not found her to be [Autistic].” (AR 1337). The ARD Committee did not accept the autism diagnoses made by Dr. Johnson and the meeting ended in non-consensus (AR 1337).

         On March 26, 2014, the ARD Committee met for Plaintiff's annual meeting (AR 1354). Plaintiff requested an Independent Educational Evaluation in the areas of occupational therapy, assistive technology, speech, adaptive physical education, and functional behavior assessment (AR 1461-62). The ARD Committee reconvened on May 21, 2014, due to scheduling issues (AR 1395). The ARD Committee developed an Individual Education Program to include the provision of occupational therapy, adaptive physical education, speech, transportation, parent training, and assistive technology (AR 1392). The ARD Committee determined that Plaintiff “successfully met academic requirements for the minimum graduation plan” and stated that Plaintiff required continued support in the areas of independent living, vocational training, employment options, and money management (AR 1390). The ARD Committee recommended continuing Plaintiff's education in a Focus on the Future program for the 2014-2015 academic school year (AR 1397). Plaintiff's attorney stated he would disagree with the ARD recommendation so that he could confer with his client and speak with the LISD's attorney (AR 1397).

         On August 21, 2014, Plaintiff requested a due process hearing under the IDEA (Dkt. #10 at ¶ 5). In her request, Plaintiff complained of Defendant's failure to comply with its obligations under the IDEA to identify and address all of her multiple disabilities and to create an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) which took each of those disabilities into account (Dkt. #10 at ¶ 5). The parties participated in hearing on April 22 and 23, 2015. Following the completion of the due process hearing, on June 22, 2015, the Special Education Hearing Officer (“SEHO”) issued a decision finding:

1. The LISD “failed to comply with its Child Find obligations . . . in failing to diagnose [Plaintiff] as autistic when assessing her disabilities.” (AR 31).
2. The LISD “failed to identify that Plaintiff was eligible for special education services as a student with the disability of autism.” (AR 31).
3. Plaintiff is eligible for IDEA services with her specific learning disabilities including autism (AR 31).
4. The LISD provided a Free Appropriate Public Education and “there were no substantive or procedural violations.” (AR 31).
5. The LISD met its burden of proving Plaintiff is not entitled to an Independent Educational Evaluation at the LISD's expense “because an appropriate [Full and Individual Evaluation] was conducted” by the LISD. (AR 31).

         The ARD Committee convened on September 4, 2015, and added autism eligibility for Plaintiff's special education (Dkt. #23). No additional changes were made to Plaintiff's Individual Education Program (Dkt. #23).

         On November 14, 2016, the LISD filed a Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Dkt. #24). The LISD contends that the SEHO erred in determining that the LISD failed to comply with its Child Find obligations (Dkt. #24 at p. 1). The LISD also argues that the SEHO erred in determining that it failed to identify Plaintiff as eligible for special education services as a student with autism and erred in ordering the LISD to add autism as an eligibility for Plaintiff when Plaintiff did not seek such relief in the underlying due ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.