The State Education Department
State Review Officer

No. 05-040

 

 

 

 

Application of a CHILD SUSPECTED OF HAVING A DISABILITY, by her parents, for review of a determination of a hearing officer relating to the provision of educational services by the Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Ithaca

 

 

 

Appearances:
State University of New York at Buffalo School of Law Legal Assistance Program, attorney for petitioners, H. Jeffrey Marcus, Esq., of counsel

 

Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, attorney for respondent, Jonathan B. Fellows, Esq., of counsel

 

 

DECISION

 

Petitioners appeal from the decision of an impartial hearing officer which dismissed their claim that respondent's Committee on Special Education (CSE) should have identified their daughter as a student with a disability, and which denied their request for tuition reimbursement for the unilateral placement of their daughter in a residential treatment center for portions of the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years. The appeal must be dismissed.

 

The student was nearly 19 years old, had graduated from high school and was in her second semester of college when the hearing began in December 2004 (Tr. pp. 322-23). She attended school in respondent's district from kindergarten through the first half of 11th grade (Tr. p. 201). During her elementary school years, the student was successful academically (Tr. pp. 199-200), and she continued to do well academically when she attended respondent's middle school for grades six through eight (Tr. pp. 201-03). In 1998, when the student was in middle school, she reportedly was abused by a student who also attended school in respondent's district (Tr. p. 202). Subsequently, and while still in middle school, the student became involved in a theater group affiliated with a local task force for battered women (Tr. p. 203), and also began to participate in chat room discussions with internet support groups for victims of abuse (Tr. pp. 207-209, 220-21). Petitioners did not become aware of their daughter's abuse claim until she was in eighth grade and revealed the incident to a woman with the task force (Tr. pp. 205-06). Petitioners then arranged for private counseling for their daughter, who reportedly became angry and withdrawn as a result of their involvement, and increased the amount of time she spent participating in internet chat rooms (Tr. pp. 205-07).

 

At the end of eighth grade during the 1999-2000 school year, the student was maintaining a 3.83 grade point average (Parent Ex. 41). She continued to receive private counseling from a therapist who also was employed as a social worker at the middle school and who had counseled the student during middle school (Tr. pp. 221-23). In September 2000, as the student was entering high school, her private therapist contacted a high school social worker and advised her that the student was expressing anxiety about entering high school (Tr. p. 161). The student introduced herself to that social worker at the high school during the first weeks of September 2000, and subsequently met with that high school social worker on an as-needed basis during 2000-01 (Tr. p. 162). Throughout that year, the private therapist and the high school social worker engaged in occasional conversations about the student, whom they regarded as a "high achiever" (Tr. p. 163). In May 2001, the private therapist informed petitioners that their daughter claimed to have a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) resulting in the existence of multiple personalities (Tr. p. 210). Petitioners did not observe any symptoms of the disorder (id.), but arranged for a private psychiatrist to assist the private therapist (Tr. pp. 222-23). The private psychiatrist reportedly did not believe that the student had a multiple personality disorder and recommended that her internet use be discontinued (Tr. p. 223). The student completed ninth grade with a final grade point average of 3.02 for honors and Regents level courses (Parent Ex. 41).

 

When the student began tenth grade during the 2001-02 school year she was doing well academically (Tr. p. 36). The tenth grade guidance counselor noted some decline in the student's academic performance during tenth grade and met with petitioners to discuss their daughter's performance in certain courses (Tr. pp. 42, 76). Petitioners did not report any nonacademic concerns about their daughter, though they did suspect that she was not getting enough sleep (Tr. pp. 46, 218). During the first half of tenth grade, the high school social worker saw the student every one or two weeks. In these sessions, the student discussed peer relationships and "daily kinds of teen issues" which the high school social worker did not consider unusual (Tr. pp. 167-68).

 

At the end of February 2002, petitioners became aware that, for approximately two years, their daughter had been spending excessive amounts of time at night on the internet and on the telephone with a boyfriend (Tr. pp. 208-09, 215, 224, 238-39). Petitioners then discontinued their daughter's internet and telephone privileges (Tr. p. 240). On February 26, 2002, at a session with her private therapist, the student accused her father of abuse after which the private therapist reported the allegations to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (Dist. Ex. 3, Parent Ex. 9; Tr. pp. 168-169, 240-41).

 

After her allegations were reported, the student resided with an aunt who allowed her to resume internet access (Tr. p. 242). The student remained in this living arrangement for approximately one month, during which time she continued to attend high school (id.), although her attendance was inconsistent and she made frequent visits to the high school social worker's office to report feeling anxious (Dist. Ex. 3, Parent Ex. 9). Also during this time, the high school social worker maintained frequent contact with the student's private therapist, as the student had revealed to the high school social worker that she believed she had an eating disorder as well as DID (Parent Ex. 3; Tr. pp. 171-72).

 

After consulting with the private therapist and psychiatrist, petitioners arranged for their daughter's admission to the Four Winds psychiatric facility (Four Winds) for evaluation and treatment (Parent Ex. 10A). She remained at Four Winds for three weeks, during which time the tenth grade guidance counselor coordinated the student's academic work with the director of school services at Four Winds to ensure that the student would return to school with minimum interruption in her education (Parent Ex. 5). While the student was hospitalized, the family court awarded temporary custody of the student to the county Department of Social Services (Tr. p. 252).

 

On April 12, 2002, the student was discharged from Four Winds and placed with foster parents (Dist. Ex. 5, Parent Ex. 10A; Tr. p. 253). Her discharge summary offered a primary Axis I diagnoses of Depressive Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) (Dist. Ex. 5, Parent Ex. 10A). An education plan review for discharge from Four Winds described the student as self-motivated and self-directed in the educational setting and capable of working independently (Parent Ex. 7). The report indicated that the student "should have little difficulty reentering her academic program" (id.). Upon discharge, the student began private counseling with a new therapist (Dist. Ex. 5).

 

The student returned to high school for approximately one week after she was discharged from Four Winds, during which time arrangements were made by her guidance counselor and social worker for her to attend the Lighthouse program. Lighthouse is a Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) program that provides short-term academic and therapeutic intervention designed to assist students with transition back into school after inpatient hospitalization (Dist. Exs. 3, 5; Tr. pp. 53-54, 148, 182-84). Lighthouse is not a special education program (Tr. p. 54).

 

The student continued in the Lighthouse program for the remainder of the 2001-02 school year and completed tenth grade with a cumulative grade point average of 2.80 (Dist. Ex. 9, Parent Ex. 41). She was discharged from Lighthouse on June 19, 2002 with an Axis I diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Depressed Mood (Dist. Exs. 5, 27). Her discharge summary report noted that the student "displayed a continuous increase in academic productivity and was able to manage her school work during her crisis" (Dist. Ex. 5, Parent Ex. 27).

 

The student remained in foster care during summer 2002 and in September 2002, when she returned to respondent's high school for 11th grade. Her 11th grade guidance counselor noted that the student appeared to be "positive" about returning to school and was registered for honors level courses, which were "more intensive" than Regents level courses (Tr. pp. 114-17). The student resumed regular sessions with the high school social worker, who indicated that topics addressed in their sessions were similar to those discussed in previous years (Tr. pp. 152, 186). The high school social worker noted that the student would occasionally make references to an eating disorder (Tr. p. 154). In November 2002, the student's first quarter report card indicated a grade point average of 3.56 (Parent Ex. 41).

 

Pursuant to a family court order, on November 7, 2003 the student was evaluated by a psychiatrist who determined that the student had fabricated her claim of abuse by her father, did not have DID, and may or may not have been abused in 1998 (Parent Ex. 31). The court-appointed psychiatrist opined that, at the time she was admitted to Four Winds, the student suffered from a Schizophreniform Reaction, a Delusional Disorder which was the result of excessive telephone contact and "addiction" to participation in a "cult like" internet chat room, exacerbated by lack of sleep. He determined that, at the time of the evaluation, the student manifested features of Mixed Personality Disorder Borderline Personality with Narcissistic, Histrionic and Obsessive Traits. The psychiatrist noted that the diagnosis of a personality disorder can not be made before age 18, but that the student exhibited characteristic features of this disorder, including manipulative and splitting behavior, lying to her therapist, inappropriate attachment to selected individuals and instability of moods.

 

In his report dated January 20, 2003, the psychiatrist noted that the ultimate goal for petitioners' daughter would be to return her to her family, but that the student was "antagonistic" to the possibility of living with her parents at the time of the evaluation (id.). He noted that by all available reports the student was behaving adequately in her present circumstance at the foster home with public school and outpatient counseling, and indicated that if the Department of Social Services retained custody of the student she may remain in their supervised residence with outpatient counseling in accordance with her wishes. He suggested that the student would receive "ideal treatment" if she were to attend a therapeutic boarding school for one and one half to two years, but would require placement in a residential treatment center if she became a "management problem." The psychiatrist further recommended that psychiatric hospitalization followed by placement in a residential treatment center would be required if the student began to display "symptoms of emotional disturbance" such as suicidal gestures, symptoms of an eating disorder or addiction to the internet or telephone.

 

On January 30, 2003, the student's second quarter report card for 11th grade indicated a grade point average of 3.21 (Dist. Ex. 9). On February 4, 2003, the student's foster parents reported that the student, who had lived with these providers since she was discharged from Four Winds in April 2002, had matured to become a "sensible, intelligent and compassionate young woman" who was "developing realistic goals for herself" and "researching appropriate colleges" (Parent Ex. 20). The foster parents also reported that the student had "managed to study and do well on her regents (sic) exams last week" despite her recent difficulties (id.).

 

The family court ordered that custody of the student be returned to petitioners in February 2003, though the student resided with a family friend rather than with petitioners (Tr. p. 288). On February 8, 2003, petitioners placed their daughter in the Second Nature Wilderness Program (Second Nature) in Utah, where she remained until May 7, 2003 (Parent Ex. 17). After custody was returned to petitioners, an education consultant hired by petitioners to locate a suitable program for their daughter recommended Second Nature (Tr. pp. 282-87). A Second Nature treatment summary report dated May 7, 2003 offered an Axis I primary diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Parent Ex. 17).

 

On the day she was discharged from Second Nature, petitioners placed their daughter in the Vista Adolescent Treatment Center (Vista) in Utah (Parent Exs. 50, 54). Vista is a residential treatment center which provides therapeutic services for adolescents and their families, and was recommended to petitioners by staff at Second Nature (Parent Ex. 30; Tr. p. 316). Educational services at Vista are provided through an on-site 12-month educational program called the Vista Private School (Parent Ex. 30; Tr. p. 450). Upon her admission to Vista, an admission interview of the student yielded a preliminary Axis I diagnosis of Depressive Disorder NOS (Parent Ex. 54). One month later, a psychological evaluation of the student conducted at Vista yielded an Axis I primary diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent, Moderate (Dist. Ex. 11).

 

The student completed the 2002-03 academic year at Vista Private School and achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.33 (Parent Exs. 34, 66). The student continued her studies during summer 2003 (Tr. p. 450). On October 16, 2003, the student was transferred from Vista's residential treatment program to Vista's foster care and day treatment programs (Tr. p. 348). She completed educational requirements for a high school diploma at Vista Private School, achieving a final grade point average of 3.64 (Tr. pp. 427-28). She was discharged from Vista on December 5, 2003 (Parent Ex. 44). The student's discharge summary from Vista offered an Axis I primary diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder NOS (id.). The discharge summary also offered an Axis II diagnosis of Personality Disorder NOS with Features of Dependent and Borderline Personality Disorders (Parent Ex. 44). In January 2004, the student enrolled in college, and when the impartial hearing began in December 2004, she was still attending college, was residing in her own apartment, and maintained contact with her counselor from Vista, who continued to provide therapy services to the student (Tr. pp. 323-24, 427-28, 537).

 

Petitioners initially requested an impartial hearing on June 3, 2004 (Dist. Ex. 10) and an impartial hearing officer was appointed on June 9, 2004 (IHO Ex. 3). Thereafter, petitioners submitted a revised impartial hearing request seeking reimbursement for all costs and expenses associated with their daughter's placement at Second Nature from February 7 through May 7, 2003 and for her placement at Vista for the remainder of the 2002-03 school year and the first half of the 2003-04 school year (Parent Ex. 2). The impartial hearing was held on December 2, 3 and 21, 2004. The impartial hearing officer rendered his decision on February 28, 2005. He found, among other things, that respondent did not fail in its child find obligations.

 

A school district must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students who have met the criteria for identification as students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Article 89 of the New York State Education Law. State and local educational agencies also have an affirmative duty to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities residing in the state (20 U.S.C. 1412[a][3]; 34 C.F.R. 300.125[a][1][i]). To satisfy this "child find" requirement, a board of education must have procedures in place that will enable it to find such children (Application of a Child with a Disability, Appeal No. 93-41). The child find duty is triggered when the district "has reason to suspect a disability and reason to suspect that special education services may be needed to address that disability" (Dept. of Educ. v. Cari Rae S, 158 F. Supp. 2d 1190 [D. Haw. 2001]). The provision applies to children who are suspected of being a child with a disability and in need of special education, even though they are advancing from grade to grade (34 C.F.R. 300.125[a][2][ii]).

 

In this appeal, the issue is not whether the procedures were in place, but rather, whether upon the facts presented, the student should have been referred to the CSE (Application of a Child with a Disability, Appeal No. 01-058; Application of the Board of Educ., Appeal No. 00-052). A district's ignorance of a child's possible disability and need for special education will not relieve it of its child find obligation if it should have suspected the student had a disability (Application of a Child Suspected of Having a Disability, Appeal No. 01-082). Because the child find obligation is an affirmative one, the IDEA does not require parents to request that the district evaluate their child (id.).

 

Petitioners claim that respondent failed to satisfy its child find obligations. Specifically, they assert that their daughter should have been referred to the CSE and that the CSE should have classified her as having an emotional disturbance.

 

Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a student's educational performance:

 

(i) an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors;

 

(ii) an inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers;

 

(iii) inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances;

 

(iv) a generally pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression; or

 

(v) a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

 

The term includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to students who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance.(8 NYCRR 200.1[zz][4]).

 

I agree with the impartial hearing officer's conclusion that there was insufficient evidence at the time of the student's withdrawal from the school district to classify the student as having an emotional disturbance, and, I further find that the record does not support petitioners' claim that the district had reason to suspect the student had a disability and reason to suspect that special education services may be needed to address that disability.

 

The student's father testified that his daughter did well academically through the seventh grade (Tr. pp. 201-02). He further testified that he had no concerns about his daughter's academic performance in eighth grade (Tr. p. 225). The record shows that by the end of eighth grade, the student was maintaining a 3.83 grade point average (Parent Ex. 41). As noted above, the middle school social worker counseled the student during middle school (Tr. pp. 221-22), and also provided private counseling to the student to address concerns arising from her claim that she had been abused in 1998 (Tr. p. 206).

 

Before the student began ninth grade in September 2000, her private therapist advised the high school social worker of the student's concerns (Tr. pp. 136-37). The high school social worker testified that she met with petitioner's daughter fairly regularly during the school year and discussed various concerns including peer issues and involvement in various activities which caused the student to be over extended (Tr. pp. 139-40). She further testified that the student was attending class during ninth grade (Tr. p. 142), that the student was not struggling academically during ninth grade (Tr. p. 140), and that she did not suspect that the student was a student with a disability during ninth grade (Tr. p. 141).

 

The guidance counselor assigned to the student for ninth grade testified that she was aware that the student was receiving private counseling (Tr. p. 111). She further testified that the student successfully completed the ninth grade (id.). As noted above, the student completed ninth grade with a final grade point average of 3.02 for honors and Regents level courses (Parent Ex. 41). The ninth grade guidance counselor stated that she did not suspect that the student was a student with a disability during that year (Tr. p. 111). She noted that neither the high school social worker nor the student's teachers expressed concerns to her that they suspected the student was a student with a disability (Tr. p. 112).

 

The student's father testified that his concerns about his daughter during her ninth grade year related to her anxiety about the student she claimed abused her (Tr. pp. 225, 230-31). He further testified that he did not discuss his concerns with school district personnel because the high school social worker was aware of the situation (Tr. p. 226), and because his daughter was working with the private therapist upon whom he depended "a lot" (Tr. pp. 227, 232).

 

With respect to the first half of the student's tenth grade year, the high school social worker indicated that she saw the student weekly at times, less frequently at other times to discuss typical "teen issues" such as peer relationships, boyfriends and conflicts with parents (Tr. pp. 142-43, 167). She testified that during the first half of tenth grade, she did not notice the student exhibiting any symptoms of an eating disorder or evidence of self-mutilation (Tr. p. 143). She further testified that the student did not express thoughts of suicide to her (id.).

 

The guidance counselor assigned to the student for 10th grade testified that when he began working with the student she appeared to be bright and competent, that she was doing well, and that she was ahead on academic credits (Tr. p. 36). He further testified that through January 2002, the student regularly attended school, took tests and turned in assignments (Tr. p. 45). He indicated that the student's academic performance did decline in tenth grade, but he believed that the student was not happy with her classes and not pleased with the communication with her teachers, and that he met with petitioners as a result (Tr. p. 76). The tenth grade guidance counselor indicated that when he met with petitioners regarding their daughter's academic performance (Tr. pp. 36, 42), they never identified any nonacademic issues (Tr. p. 46). With respect to comments about the student appearing to be sleepy in class, the tenth grade guidance counselor observed that it was not unusual for teenagers to be sleepy in high school and that he would not necessarily suspect that that a student who was occasionally sleepy in class had an emotional disturbance (Tr. p. 102). He stated that as of the end of January 2002, he did not believe the student had a disability (id.).

 

The student's father testified that he did not have any concerns about his daughter as she was entering the tenth grade (Tr. p. 234). He further testified that when she began having trouble in a few subjects he met with the guidance counselor who accommodated him in his efforts to address his daughter's difficulties (Tr. pp. 234-37).

 

The high school social worker testified that she learned of the student's allegations from the student's private therapist in February 2002 (Tr. p. 144), though the student never disclosed the allegations to her (Tr. p. 145). She further testified that the student missed some school after the private therapist reported the allegations (Tr. pp. 170, 172). She stated that she saw the student daily when the student returned to school and was talking to the student's private therapist almost daily (id.).

 

The high school social worker also testified that she was aware that the student had been hospitalized (Tr. p. 147). She indicated that after the student was discharged, she referred the student to Lighthouse as part of the discharge recommendation from Four Winds (Tr. p. 149). She noted that the student was highly motivated to return to school (Tr. p. 151). The high school social worker stated that after she had learned of the student's allegations, she did not believe the student had a disability (Tr. p. 146). She characterized the situation as an acute crisis and noted that it was the first time she witnessed the student having trouble going to classes (id.)

 

The tenth grade guidance counselor testified that he was advised by the high school social worker that the student revealed information to her private therapist, who, for the safety and protection of the student, reported it to the authorities, and that as a result, the student was living with her aunt (Tr. pp. 48-49). He further testified that the student missed some school at the time (Tr. p. 49). The tenth grade guidance counselor indicated that he had discussions with the high school social worker about how the student was doing academically, and, with respect to the crisis, what the school could do to prevent it from having adverse effects (Tr. p. 65). He also testified that when he was advised of the student's hospitalization, he contacted the student's teachers for assignments and advised Four Winds of the procedures and the arrangements he had made (Tr. pp. 49-50). The tenth grade guidance counselor also testified that he followed the discharge instructions from Four Winds with respect to the student's transition to Lighthouse (Tr. pp. 84, 99-100), and stated that he believed that Lighthouse was an appropriate transition program (Tr. p. 54). He also stated that he had no indication from either Four Winds or Lighthouse that the student should be referred to the CSE. He indicated that he reviewed the student's status before the end of school and at end of school to ensure that he was not missing something important academically that would result in her not being able to accomplish goals (Tr. p. 55).

 

The tenth grade guidance counselor testified that he did not believe a referral was appropriate because it was his perception that the student had been through some sort of crisis which had an emotional element, but was not long standing, was not interfering any longer, and it appeared that she was making a normal progression back into the academic environment (Tr. p. 56). He opined that the student's grades were low on interim reports because something was going on in her personal life, outside of school, that was interfering with her ability to focus on academics and that she was devoting time, energy and resources to those issues (Tr. p. 103). He testified that given the difficulties she was experiencing, generally she did well academically, and he believed she was capable of returning to regular education classes at the high school in the fall (Tr. pp. 56-57).

 

The student's father testified that while his daughter was in Four Winds, temporary custody was awarded to the county Department of Social Services and when she was discharged, she was discharged to foster parents (Tr. pp. 252-53). He further testified that he did not have any contact with his daughter from February 2002 until May 2003 (Tr. pp. 525-26). He indicated that during that time, he did not observe his daughter in school, he did not speak to any of her teachers and he did not review any of her school work (Tr. pp. 526-27).

 

With respect to the student's 11th grade year, the high school social worker testified that the student was receiving counseling through Family and Children's Services, but that she had little contact with the outside services providers in the fall of 2002 (Tr. pp. 188-89). She further testified that she saw the student sometime within the first two weeks of 11th grade, and while the student still had issues, the crisis had passed and the student attended school, attended classes, did her work, and did not express any concerns about academics (Tr. pp. 153, 156-58, 194-95). The high school social worker testified that she had contact with the student approximately once per week and discussed concerns about getting a job, peer issues and living with a foster family (Tr. pp. 153, 187). She indicated that the student would hint of symptoms of an eating disorder, which did not interfere with her attending school (Tr. p. 154). The student did not express any thoughts of suicide to the high school social worker (id.).

 

The high school social worker also testified that she did not believe that the student had a disability and that she did not think that the student was in need of special education (Tr. p. 157). She indicated that the crisis that had some impact on the student's academics had passed, that the student had reengaged in school, that the student was progressing academically and appeared to be doing well in school work (Tr. pp. 156-57).

 

The student's guidance counselor during the 11th grade testified that she worked with the student to finish her 10th grade work (Tr. p. 113). She further testified that she met with the student prior to the beginning of 11th grade and that there was nothing about the student's demeanor during the meeting to indicate that the student was a student with a disability (Tr. pp. 112, 117). She indicated that the student seemed positive and did not express any concerns about returning to high school (Tr. pp. 117-18). The 11th grade guidance counselor also indicated that the student was on track for a Regents diploma and was taking honors level courses which she believed was appropriate because the student had a history of successfully working at that level (Tr. pp. 115, 118-19). She indicated that she spoke to petitioners about their daughter's courses and they did not request additional services for their daughter (Tr. pp. 118-19). She further indicated that the number of absences noted on the student's January 2003 report card was not out of the ordinary (Tr. p. 126).

 

The 11th grade guidance counselor testified that she did not refer the student to the CSE because she had no reason to (Tr. p. 119). She stated that the student progressed academically during the first half of 11th grade and never advised her that she could not handle the work (Tr. p. 120).

 

The student's father testified that after he and his wife regained custody of their daughter in February 2003, they placed their daughter in Second Nature (Tr. pp. 282-84). He further testified that after he and his wife regained custody of their daughter, he did not contact the school district about his daughter's education (Tr. p. 535).

 

The record shows that until February 2002 when the student was in her the tenth grade year, she was attending school regularly and was generally successful academically. Academic concerns that arose in early tenth grade were resolved. The high school social worker also met with the student on a regular basis to discuss various concerns, and the student also was receiving private therapy.

 

The record also shows that in February 2002, after the student alleged that her father abused her, she was anxious, missed some school, was admitted to Four Winds for diagnosis and treatment, and was temporarily placed in foster care. Although she was discharged from Four Winds with a primary diagnosis of Depressive Disorder NOS, the education plan review for discharge described the student as self-motivated and self-directed in the educational setting, capable of working independently and indicated that the student "should have little difficulty reentering her academic program." The tenth grade guidance counselor coordinated the student's academic work with Four Winds and assisted in the student's transition to Lighthouse. The student successfully completed the tenth grade at Lighthouse and was discharged with a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety and Depressed Mood. Her discharge summary report noted that the student "displayed a continuous increase in academic productivity and was able to manage her school work during her crisis." As noted above, the high school social worker and guidance counselor who worked with the student during her tenth grade year did not refer the student to the CSE because they believed that the student was motivated to return to school and generally successful academically after a situation characterized as a temporary crisis. There is no indication in the record that any of the many other professionals who worked with the student through her tenth grade year recommended that she be referred to the CSE. I note that none of the student's teachers referred her to the CSE.

 

Additionally, the record shows that when the student returned to school for 11th grade during the 2002-03 school year, she was progressing academically and appeared to be doing well in school. As noted above, the student's father did not have any contact with his daughter from February 2002 until May 2003, and during that time, he did not observe his daughter in school, he did not speak to any of her teachers and he did not review any of her school work. Although the January 2003 psychiatric evaluation report provides useful information about the student and makes various recommendations, there is no indication in the record that the report was shared with the school district. The record is clear, however, that when petitioners regained custody, they did not want the school district to have any contact with their daughter and did not contact the school district about their daughter's education. Based upon the information before me, I am unable to find that respondent's staff had reason to suspect that the student was a student with a disability and reason to suspect that special education services may be needed to address that disability.

 

 

THE APPEAL MUST BE DISMISSED.

 

 

 

Dated:

Albany, New York

 

__________________________

 

May 18, 2005

 

PAUL F. KELLY

STATE REVIEW OFFICER