The State Education Department
State Review Officer
Application of a CHILD WITH A DISABILITY, by his parents, for review of a determination of a hearing officer relating to the provision of educational services by the Board of Education of the Maine-Endwell Central School District
Legal Aid for Broome & Chenango, Inc., attorney for petitioners, Cecilia Nicholas, Esq., of counsel
Hogan & Sarzynski, LLP, attorneys for respondent, Wendy DeWind, Esq., of counsel
Petitioners appeal from an impartial hearing officerís decision that denied their request for an independent evaluation of their son by an out-of-state facility at district expense. The impartial hearing officer also denied their request for reimbursement for a physical evaluation that was conducted in March 1999, before petitioners and their son became residents of the Maine-Endwell Central School District. The appeal must be dismissed.
At the time of the hearing, the student was 11 years old. He was being home schooled, but respondent was providing related services to him at his home (Transcript p. 33). During the 1998-99 school year, the student attended school in the Cortland City School District. He transferred to Maine-Endwell at the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year.
The student has been the subject of extensive testing since he was four years old. He was initially referred to the Cortland Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) in the fall of 1992, due to concerns about his speech language and motor development (Exhibits 1, 19). The student was given a psychological, occupational, physical and speech/language team evaluation, and a cognitive assessment using the Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition, on November 19, 1992 at the Special Childrenís Center (the Center). The student received an overall score of 82 on the Stanford Binet, but the examiner cautioned that the results might not reflect the studentís true cognitive abilities due to his resistance to tasks. On December 4, 1992, the student was evaluated by an audiologist, who concluded that his hearing sensitivity was within normal limits for the speech frequencies in each ear (Exhibit 6). The student began attending the Centerís preschool program in January 1993, receiving occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy. His cognitive abilities were reevaluated on April 22, 1993, using the Stanford Binet. He received a total composite score of 88, with weaknesses in his verbal comprehension and verbal reasoning (Exhibit 6).
The Center performed a psychological reevaluation on April 4-5, 1994, when the student was almost five years old. The studentís performance on the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Ė Revised (WPPSI-R) indicated that his overall cognitive abilities fell within the average range, with significant differences between his verbal and nonverbal abilities. The school psychologist provided a number of recommendations for learning supports and social-emotional supports.
On May 24, 1994, the Cortland Committee on Special Education (CSE) concluded that the student should be classified as learning disabled because of a deficit in listening comprehension, and recommended placement in a regular education kindergarten class with the related services of speech/language therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy (Exhibit 7). The student was discharged from the Center in June 1994, and was enrolled in kindergarten in fall 1994. In the Centerís discharge report, it was noted that the fluctuation in the studentís skills from day to day might be due to some of his allergic reactions to his environment (Exhibit 8). He was reportedly allergic to red dye, dust and mold. The student briefly attended a private kindergarten in the fall of 1994. Thereafter, the Cortland CSE recommended that he be placed in an inclusive kindergarten class.
A developmental/neuropsychological evaluation was performed at the Yale Child Study Center (Yale) in October 1994, at petitionersí request (Exhibit 9). After an extensive evaluation of the studentís cognitive ability, language skills, visual-motor integration and fine motor skills, adaptive behavior, and social/emotional functioning, the Yale assessors concluded that the student had a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). In response to the parentsí request for information about the effect that their sonís allergies had upon his learning and behavior, the Yale assessors reported that allergies were not a cause of his cognitive and social dysfunction, but did inhibit his concentration and motivation to behave and learn. Their recommendations included placement in a small, highly structured, self-contained special education classroom with a curriculum that placed heavy emphasis on improving his language functioning, and continued occupational and physical therapy services. The parents were encouraged to seek medical consultation for pharmacological treatment, and advised that environmental modifications at school might be necessary.
A Cortland CSE meeting on November 22, 1994, focused on the studentís allergy concerns (Exhibit 11). A subsequent evaluation dated August 11, 1995 by Allergy-Asthma-Rheumatology Associates, P.C., established a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis with allergic otitis, allergic sinusitis due to inhaled allergens, minimal bronchial asthma due to inhaled allergens, and pervasive language disorder (Exhibit 14). Skin tests showed reactions to certain tree pollen, mold spores, cat and dog dander, house dust and dust mites. The allergist recommended medication, dietary control and environmental precautions to decrease the impact of the studentís allergic responses, and consideration of desensitization therapy. The studentís individualized education programs (IEPs) dated September 1995, August 1996, and August 1997 expressly noted that staff must watch for the studentís reactions to allergic situations.
The Cortland CSE recommended placements in inclusive first and second grade classes during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 school years. For the 1997-98 school year, it recommended placement in a regular education third grade class, with resource room services. There is little information in the record about his academic progress during those years. I note that a Cortland school psychologist who evaluated the student in May 1997 reported that his academic skills were generally at the first grade level (Exhibit 19). The school psychologist determined that the studentís performance on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Ė III (WISC-III) fell within the average range of intellectual ability, consistent with the results of past testing, and found that his verbal abilities were significantly weaker than his performance skills. His visual skills were reported to be an area of strength, while reading comprehension was his lowest area of performance.
A central auditory processing evaluation was performed at the Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) on August 25, 1997 (Exhibit 23). The audiologistís report indicated that the studentís ability to recognize words under quiet listening conditions was deficient in the right ear, but adequate in the left ear. His performance on auditory processing tests suggested that the student had severely delayed or depressed auditory processing skills, specifically in the areas of phonemic decoding and tolerance-fading memory, which was consistent with his severe speech/language difficulties. The audiologist recommended certain therapy and compensatory strategies, including the use of a sound reinforcement system. These recommendations were discussed at a September 30, 1997 CSE meeting (Exhibit 24).
The student was evaluated at the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse (Syracuse) on September 19, 1998 by a pediatric neurologist (Exhibit 93; Transcript pp. 97-98). He had been referred to the neurologist by his pediatrician to evaluate for the possibility of Touretteís syndrome. The neurologist concluded that the student exhibited traits that met the criteria for Touretteís syndrome and also exhibited some behaviors that were consistent with PDD.
The Cortland school district provided a speech/language evaluation on June 9, 1998, and achievement testing on November 30, 1998 (Exhibits 29, 30). The studentís mother had also expressed an interest in investigating assistive technology that might be beneficial to her son, and attended a workshop on assistive technology sponsored by Enable on December 8, 1998 (Exhibit 29). The student was withdrawn from school by his parents on February 4, 1999 and home schooled for the second semester with related services (Exhibits 31, 34).
In March 1999, at the age of nine, the student was referred to Strong Memorial Hospital (Strong) for an assessment of treatment options for PDD. Strong issued a comprehensive interdisciplinary report, which included a physical examination by a pediatrician, a psychological evaluation and a speech and language evaluation, on March 9, 1999 (Exhibit 31). The Strong evaluators reported that although the child manifested some of the characteristics of disorders within the autism spectrum, he did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PDD. They indicated that some of the characteristics he did manifest could be attributed to Touretteís syndrome, and that a social skills curriculum implemented as part of a pragmatic language curriculum would be beneficial. The report included the testing results from a number of assessments, including psychology testing and auditory-perceptual skills testing. The student had received a composite IQ score of 104 on the Stanford Binet, within the average range of functioning. The speech and language evaluation confirmed a significant auditory processing disorder primarily affecting his ability to perceive speech accurately when spoken under difficult or less than ideal listening conditions.
On May 3, 1999, the Center for Speech and Hearing Disorders, at the State University College at Cortland (SUNY Cortland), issued a progress report noting that the studentís hearing sensitivity had previously been found to be within the normal range across the tested frequencies bilaterally, and that prior assessments showed that the student exhibited a moderate expressive language delay characterized by a mild phonological disorder and decreased speech intelligibility. The progress report indicated that the student had made good progress toward achieving his therapy goals during the treatment period, although he was often distracted by the activity rather than concentrating on the target words. Continued therapy was recommended, including a focus on the studentís difficulty in processing auditory information.
Petitioners moved from the Cortland City School District to respondentís district just before the start of classes in the fall of 1999. I note that in March 1999, the Cortland CSE had recommended that the student remain classified as learning disabled and that he attend a regular education fourth grade class, with the services of an aide for part of the school day, during the 1999-2000 school year. Prior to the start of classes, the studentís mother met with respondentís pupil personnel services director on August 18, 1999, to discuss the studentís past educational history and his disabilities (Exhibit 38). A social history was obtained on September 13, 1999 (Exhibit 40).
On October 5, 1999, respondentís CSE recommended that the student be classified as other health impaired, and receive speech/language therapy, counseling, and the services of a part-time aide while attending a regular education fourth grade class (Exhibit 45). At its request, an occupational therapy evaluation was performed. The evaluator recommended that the student receive 45 minutes of occupational therapy twice per week, and suggested that certain specialized devices such as a weighted lap pad, a T-stool, and a slant board be used (Exhibit 44). The studentís gross motor development was tested at BOCES on January 24, 2000 (Transcript p. 54; Exhibit 55). The testing indicated a very poor development quotient and gross motor skills well below average for the childís age. The evaluator recommended that the student receive adaptive physical education twice a week on an individual basis, not within a class setting. This recommendation was discussed at a CSE meeting on February 15, 2000 (Exhibit 57).
The student first attended respondentís Homer Brink Elementary School (Homer Brink), where he was placed in a general education fourth grade class with a part-time aide, resource room services, adaptive physical education, speech/language therapy, counseling and occupational therapy services (Transcript p. 36). The teachers also developed an incentive/behavior program to help keep the student working toward daily goals, with specified incentives for successful completion of those goals (Transcript pp. 37, 51-52, 167; Exhibits 47, 48, 54, 71), and the school obtained an air cleaner to help address the studentís allergies (Transcript p. 50). In February 2000, the student transferred to respondentís Maine Memorial School (Maine Memorial), where he received the same services (Transcript p. 28; Exhibit 71). The classroom and resource room teachers made many curriculum modifications and instructional adaptations to help the student (Exhibits 61, 71). However, after several months the student became stressed and his difficulties in class increased. The school recommended a 15:1 placement within the building, but on May 1, 2000, petitioners withdrew their son from the public school and the student was home schooled for the remainder of the school year with related services provided at Homer Brink (Exhibits 59, 60). As of the date of the hearing, the student had not returned to classes at a school building.
Speech and language testing was administered on July 20, 2000, as part of the triennial review process (Exhibit 70). Respondentís evaluator listed the results of testing that had been performed in March, April and July 2000, including the Test of Auditory Reasoning and Processing Skills (TARPS), the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF), the Listening Test, the Test of Auditory Perceptual Skills-Revised (TAPS-R), and the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation. On the TARPS, the student achieved a standard score of 85. On the CELF, he achieved standard scores of 86 for receptive language and 94 for expressive language. The evaluator recommended continuing speech/language therapy, with an emphasis upon the studentís social skills.
The school psychologist completed a psychological evaluation on August 3, 2000, also as part of the studentís triennial review (Exhibit 71). The evaluation recited the studentís long history of testing and evaluations, dating from 1992 when he was four years old. The school psychologist administered the WISC-III and Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) assessments in July 2000, and also described the results of a number of student observations in her report (id.). She recommended that the student be placed in a smaller classroom environment, to reduce the need for pullout services and decrease his stress level caused by having many transitions during his school day. She also recommended continuation of related services of speech, adaptive physical education and occupational therapy, continued use of an air filtration system for allergy relief, use of the auditory trainer, and development of a specific behavior plan. For purposes of the triennial review, the occupational therapist also completed an annual review report (Exhibit 72). She noted regression in the studentís handwriting and trunk weakness over the past year (Exhibits 64, 72; Transcript p. 350), which she attributed to the number of changes and transitions over the school year (Exhibit 64; Transcript p. 351) but which could be caused by medical or neurological problems (Transcript p. 366). There was disagreement as to whether the results of the achievement tests indicated regression over the past year or were statistically comparable (Transcript p. 244).
The various evaluations and recommendations were discussed at a CSE meeting on August 4, 2000 (Exhibit 74). Petitioners disagreed with the school psychologistís recommended change of placement to a smaller, 15:1 self-contained class (Exhibits 76, 82). Petitioners requested mediation by letter dated August 7, 2000 (Exhibit 76), and on August 21, 2000 they filed a request for a due process hearing (Exhibit 77) to challenge the proposed placement in to the 15:1 class. The request for a hearing was withdrawn on September 29, 2000 (Exhibit 80).
On November 27, 2000, petitioners requested that the school district pay for an independent evaluation of the student to be conducted by the All Kinds of Minds Institute (the Institute) in North Carolina (Exhibit 82). They asserted that a more extensive evaluation was necessary to determine a proper placement for their son. The school district denied the request for an independent evaluation (Exhibit 95), and petitioners requested an impartial hearing on December 6, 2000 (Exhibit 83). The impartial hearing took place on February 2 and February 27, 2001.
Federal and State regulations provide that the parents of a child with a disability are entitled to obtain an independent educational evaluation at public expense, if they disagree with the school district's evaluation. However, their right to an independent evaluation is subject to the right of the school district to initiate a hearing to demonstrate the appropriateness of its evaluation. If a hearing officer finds that the school districtís evaluation is appropriate, the parents may obtain an independent evaluation but not at public expense (34 CFR 300.502; 8 NYCRR 200.5[g]). The impartial hearing officer in this matter was asked to determine two specific issues: 1) whether petitioners were entitled to an independent evaluation at district expense at the Institute, and 2) whether respondent should reimburse petitioners for the evaluation by Strong that was conducted in March 1999 while the student was residing in the Cortland City School District.
The hearing officer found that the district had adequately evaluated the student in compliance with the requirements of 8 NYCRR Part 200. Addressing each requirement of Section 200.4(b)(1) for individual evaluations, the hearing officer found that the districtís evaluation included a physical examination by Strong (Exhibit 31), psychological evaluations, including the triennial evaluation by the school psychologist (Exhibit 71), the Strong psychological evaluation (Exhibit 31), a social history, completed on September 13, 1999 (Exhibit 40), which included an interview with the parents (Exhibit 38; Transcript pp. 34-35), and other appropriate assessments as described in the school psychologistís August 2000 triennial review report (Exhibit 71). The hearing officer noted that the school psychologistís report contained a report of her student observations. There is also a teacher observation dated April 6, 2000 in the record (Exhibit 58) that was referenced in the psychological evaluation report. The hearing officer further determined that the tests and assessments included in the evaluations complied with the requirements of 8 NYCRR ß200(b)(6). She specifically found that the tests and other assessments were administered in the studentís native language, were validated for the purpose for which they were used, were administered by appropriately trained personnel, and were tailored to specific areas of educational need.
The hearing officer also found that the district had ensured that the student was assessed in all areas of suspected disability, and the school psychologist had appropriately used language based cognitive assessments. She denied petitionersí request for district reimbursement for an independent evaluation at the Institute, and the request to order assessments in assistive technology, functional behavior, allergy, physical therapy and auditory processing.
The hearing officer also denied petitionersí request to be reimbursed for the cost of the Strong evaluation in March 1999, noting that it had been performed while the student was a resident of another school district. She found that it was appropriate for respondentís CSE to consider the results of prior evaluations, including information provided by the parents (8 NYCRR 200.4[b] and 200.5[a][i]), but that it was unreasonable to make respondent financially responsible for an evaluation that had been performed when the student was a resident of the Cortland City School District.
Petitioners contend that their son has not been adequately evaluated by respondentís CSE to identify each area of the studentís disability and determine the manner and extent to which they impact upon his education. They further contend that a more adequate evaluation is necessary to determine their sonís present levels of performance and educational needs. Petitioners claim that the district had not obtained a physical examination for the evaluation, and that the school psychologist stated that no medical reports had been reviewed. However, the record includes a physical examination report from Strong dated March 1999 (Exhibit 31). Although the school psychologist testified that she did not specifically review any medical reports (Transcript pp. 238-39) and did not know the date of the studentís last complete medical assessment (Transcript p. 239), she added that she had reviewed the information about Touretteís syndrome and the notes in previously psychological reports about history of ear infections and allergies (Transcript pp. 238-39). The districtís other witnesses repeatedly referred to the Strong report and using the diagnoses and conclusions of that report to guide their own assessments. A CSE may rely upon a private evaluation in lieu of conducting its own (Application of a Child Suspected of Having a Disability, Appeal No. 98-80; Application of a Child with a Disability, Appeal No. 96-87).
The districtís witnesses considered the March 1999 Strong report to be still current as of the time of the triennial review in August 2000 (Transcript p. 97, 241). Petitioners contend that the guidelines in a publication of the New York State Education Department (NYSED), Individual Evaluations and Eligibility Determinations for Students with Disabilities, dated August 2000, establish that a test or assessment over one year old is no longer current. I cannot agree with that interpretation. The NYSED guidelines state that, in most circumstances, a test or assessment would be considered current if it were conducted within one year of the request for an initial evaluation or reevaluation, in most circumstances, but do not expressly foreclose the districts from considering a test that is more than one year old from being considered current. It has previously been recognized that the law does not require that assessments be less than one year old (Application of the Board of Educ., Appeal No. 00-045; Application of a Child with a Disability, Appeal No. 97-87). It is the districtís burden to establish that the assessments in its evaluation are current, and I believe that the totality of the testimony at the hearing established that the Strong evaluation was properly considered current and adequate.
Petitioners next contend that a functional behavioral assessment is a necessary and missing part of the evaluation. The hearing officer rejected this contention, saying that the school psychologistís classroom observations discussed the studentís behavior in depth, but I do not believe that statement alone resolves the question. The teachers at Homer Brink had designed an incentive or behavior plan in 1999 (Exhibit 47). In her August 2000 evaluation report, the school psychologist recommended that a more comprehensive functional behavior assessment (FBA) should be performed (Exhibit 71), but the FBA was not completed because the student had not returned to the school setting as of the date of the hearing (Transcript p. 230). District witnesses explained that it was essential to conduct the FBA in a school setting, because the purpose was to assess his behaviors in the school environment and try to develop a behavior plan to address any problem behaviors (Transcript pp. 122-23, 139, 230). I find that the districtís evaluation was not rendered inadequate because no FBA had yet been completed. The student had not yet returned to the school setting where the FBA could be performed.
Petitioners next assert that the school psychologistís use of language-based assessments did not give an accurate picture of their sonís cognitive skills and achievement progress. All parties agreed that the student has language-based disorders, including a central auditory processing disorder. Petitioners object to the use of assessments in which all directions are presented verbally and much of the required response is verbal. Respondentís school psychologist testified at length as to the propriety of using the language-based assessments (Transcript pp. 247-266). She chose to administer the WISC-III because the WISC and WPPSI test had been administered before, she felt the tests she selected would be valid measures, and she could readily compare current results with prior results (Transcript pp. 172, 248). She chose the WIAT achievement tests because it directly correlated to the intelligence test she had administered.
The school psychologist opined that additional testing was unnecessary for this student (Transcript p. 257). She believed that the test measured the studentís nonverbal skills very well (Transcript p. 249). She stated that she believed that he understood the directions well, understood what was being asked and what he was supposed to do, performed the majority of tasks very well, and that his auditory processing deficit did not cause a problem with the testing (Transcript pp. 205-06, 249). In view of the studentís scores on the TARPS and CELF, I find that the school psychologistís testimony is credible. The school psychologist also noted the consistency of the studentís scores over years of testing, including non-verbal intelligence tests as well as verbal intelligence tests. When comparing all of the scores through 1999, she found that they were fairly consistent, and the various strengths and weaknesses that were indicated were also comparable, although the difference between verbal and nonverbal became more apparent with every testing (Transcript p. 198). She explained that, as the in depth developed, language was lagging behind (id.). The districtís pupil personnel services director similarly noted that the in depth had had both language and non-language based tests in the past, and the results were "remarkably consistent historically" (Transcript p. 130). These opinions were not rebutted, and I must agree with the hearing officer that the district met its burden of establishing that use of the language-based assessments was appropriate and adequate.
Petitioners contend that a further neurological evaluation is necessary, due the complexity of the studentís diagnoses and behaviors. In addition to the comprehensive medical assessment completed at Strong, the record also includes the September 1998 neurological assessment from Syracuse (Exhibit 93), which would still have been considered current at the time of the hearing (Transcript p. 97). That evaluation was the first evaluation to suggest a diagnosis of Touretteís syndrome, which was confirmed by the Strong evaluation. Although the school psychologist agreed in response to a question in cross-examination that another neurological evaluation might be helpful, she also stated that district personnel had enough information to know what worked in dealing with the student, and that there was no particular additional testing that would be helpful (Transcript p. 236). I find that another neurological evaluation was not needed in order for the CSE to have adequate information about the student.
Petitioners also contend that an updated audiological evaluation was necessary, because the SUNY Buffalo evaluation of August 1997 was the most recent evaluation. The Strong evaluation had included a hearing test, but not an audiological evaluation (Transcript p. 308). The speech and hearing teacher at Homer Brink testified (Transcript pp. 277-78) that she had evaluated the student in August 2000 (Exhibit 70), and that she had reviewed the older tests from Strong (Exhibit 31), the 1999 SUNY Cortland testing reports (Exhibit 35) and the SUNY Buffalo report (Exhibit 23). In July 2000, she had administered assessments that test various aspects of auditory processing skills (Exhibit 70), and the speech and language teacher at Maine Memorial had tested the student in April 2000 (Transcript p. 284; Exhibit 70). She testified that she was able to diagnose difficulties within central auditory processing disorders, although she was not qualified to make the actual diagnosis of central auditory processing disorder (Transcript p. 314), and that the studentís problem areas had remained fairly consistent over the years (Transcript p. 294). Her own experience with the student was also consistent with the testing (id.). I find that the SUNY Buffalo report was current within the three-year standard used by the district, updated testing was consistent with the diagnosed auditory disorder and indicated the studentís current level of functioning, and the districtís evaluation was adequate.
Petitioners further contend that the district did not adequately assess the studentís need for assistive technology. The studentís occupational therapist testified that the student had not had an assistive technology evaluation, but that she thought he was doing well with the assistive technology device he already had (an adaptive keyboard) (Transcript p. 371). The student also had an auditory monitor, which was the subject of conflicting notes in the studentís records as to whether it was helping, but the school district decided that it was worth trying (Transcript p. 134). The pupil personnel services director testified that an assistive technology evaluation was discussed with petitioners at the February 15, 2000 CSE meeting, and petitioners had not wanted to pursue the evaluation at that time (Transcript p. 134; Exhibit 57). The studentís mother testified that she had agreed to put off a full assistive technology evaluation while the occupational therapist tried an adaptive keyboard with the student (Transcript pp. 449-50).
A studentís evaluation must include "other appropriate assessments or evaluations Öas necessary" (8 NYCRR ß200.4(b)(1)(v). Given the testimony that the district had already provided assistive technology devices such as the adaptive keyboard and auditory monitor, that the mother had agreed to postpone an assistive technology evaluation until the occupational therapist had had an opportunity to try the use of an adaptive keyboard, and the apparent success of the studentís use of the keyboard, I find that the district sustained its burden of showing that an assistive technology evaluation was not a necessary part of the current evaluation.
Petitioners also contend that the evaluation should include an updated report by an allergist. The student was evaluated by Allergy-Asthma-Rheumatology Associates in 1995, and this report is concededly no longer current (Transcript p. 109). However, there are myriad references to the studentís diagnosed allergies in the record, as well as references to attempts by the school to minimize environmental factors that might increase his allergic responses, such as the use of an air filter. The latest proposed IEP in the record, dated August 2000, contained specific provisions about the need for an air filtering system due to severe environmental allergies to dust or mold (Exhibit 98). The issue of allergies was discussed at CSE meetings (e.g., Exhibit 79), but there is nothing in the record to indicate that the student seemed to be developing new or previously unknown allergies. Furthermore, the Yale evaluation had established that allergies were not the cause of the studentís cognitive and social dysfunction. I find that petitionersí contention is without merit.
I conclude that the hearing officerís determination to deny an independent evaluation at the Institute at district expense was proper. I do not see evidence in the record that petitioners actually disagreed with any of the testing results or conclusions in the assessments performed by the district or obtained from outside providers that were used by the district for the triennial evaluation. When considering what, if any, additional useful information would result from the requested independent evaluation at the Institute (Application of a Child with a Disability, Appeal No. 98-24), I find that the information expected to be elicited from the Institute evaluation is substantially the same as information already contained in the districtís evaluation records. It is my conclusion that the districtís evaluation is adequate, and there are no grounds to order the independent evaluation.
I further uphold the hearing officerís determination to deny petitionersí request for reimbursement of the cost of the Strong evaluation from March 1999. This evaluation was obtained while the petitioners and student were residents of the Cortland City School District, not Maine-Endwell, and the parents had taken their son to Strong upon the recommendation of the Cortland CSE (Transcript pp. 401, 453). Because petitioners did not obtain the independent evaluation at Strong due to any disagreement with Maine-Endwellís evaluations, and they were not even residents of the district at the time the evaluation was conducted, petitioners are not entitled to reimbursement of the expense from Maine-Endwell (8 NYCRR ß200.5[g]).
THE APPEAL IS DISMISSED.
Albany, New York
April 10, 2002