Plainville Board of Education v. R.N.
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act requires that boards of education provide free, appropriate, public education. The minor child, R.N., was diagnosed with childhood onset bipolar disorder. Although a planning and placement team established an individualized education program, the minor child experienced difficulty during the 2004-to-2005 school year that resulted in a suspension and time in a psychiatric facility. In 2005, R.N.'s condition deteriorated. In 2006, R.N. attended Northwest Village School. A planning and placement team concluded that R.N. exhibited variable attention and effort, was easily overwhelmed, and exhibited poor work completion and engagement. In 2007, R.N. went to the emergency room. The planning and placement team decided that R.N. should attend the Intensive Education Academy. In June 2008, the school expelled R.N., because he struck people. R.N.'s mother placed R.N. at the F.L. Chamberlain School, which provides year-round special education. At Chamberlain, R.N. made academic progress and did not miss any school days. A hearing officer found that the board of education failed to provide a free, appropriate public education during the 2007-to-2008 and the 2008-to-2009 school years. The board of education maintained that the hearing officer engaged in "Monday morning quarterbacking" and asked the court to reverse. The District Court found that the board's individualized education programs for the 2007-to-2008 and 2008-to-2009 school years were not reasonably calculated to provide benefits. The minor child experienced sufficient difficulty to alert the board that the placement at Northwest Village School was not appropriate. A two-hour school day was insufficient to permit R.N. to achieve any academic progress. A preponderance of the evidence indicated R.N. regressed during the 2007-to-2008 school year. Although R.N.'s mother participated in the planning process, that did not immunize the board. The board's failure to develop an individualized education program for the 2008-to-2009 school year was not excused on the grounds that R.N.'s mother refused to consent to re-evaluation, absent information about the evaluator's credentials and the test process. Also, the board did not identify pertinent information that would be discovered in the re-evaluation. R.N.'s mother was entitled to reimbursement for R.N.'s placement at Chamberlain.