OAH CASE NO. 2023100744, PARENT ON BEHALF OF STUDENT, v. MORGAN HILL UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT AND CAMPPBELL UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT

(619) 764-6168

EXPEDITED DECISION 


NOVEMBER 30, 2023


On October 20, 2023, the Office of Administrative Hearings, called OAH, received a due process hearing request from Student naming Morgan Hill Unified School District and Campbell Union School District. Student's complaint contained expedited and non-expedited hearing claims. OAH set the expedited and non-expedited matters for separate hearings. he expedited claims proceeded to hearing with no continuances. (34 C.F.R. § 300.532(c)(2).) This Expedited Decision resolves only the expedited claims.


Administrative Law Judge June R. Lehrman heard this matter via videoconference on November 14 and 15, 2023. Nicole Amey represented Student. Advocate Ginale Harris and Mother attended all hearing days on Student's behalf. Ankita Thakkar and Alejandra Leon represented Morgan Hill. Dee Anna Hassanpour and Rachel Tillman represented Campbell Union. Campbell Union's Director of Special Education Heather Wallendorf attended all hearing days on Campbell Union's behalf.


On November 15, 2023, the last day of hearing, the record was closed and the matter was submitted for decision. The ALJ allowed the parties to file closing arguments during the submittal time. 


ISSUE 


1. Did Campbell Union School District fail to convene a manifestation determination meeting prior to a change of placement or threat of expulsion denying Student access to her education over 37 days during the 2023-24 school year? 


JURISDICTION 


This hearing was held under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, its regulations, and California statutes and regulations. (20 U.S.C. § 1400 et. seq.; 34 C.F.R. § 300.1 (2006) et seq.; Ed. Code, § 56000 et seq.; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 3000 et seq.) The main purposes of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, referred to as the IDEA, are to ensure: 

• all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living, and 

• the rights of children with disabilities and their parents are protected. (20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1); See Ed. Code, § 56000, subd. (a).)


The IDEA affords parents and local educational agencies the procedural protection of an impartial due process hearing with respect to any matter relating to the identification, assessment, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education, referred to as FAPE, to the child. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(6) & (f); 34 C.F.R. § 300.511; Ed. Code, §§ 56501, 56502, and 56505; Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 3082.) The party requesting the hearing is limited to the issues alleged in the complaint, unless the other party consents, and has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(B); Ed. Code, § 56502, subd. (i); Schaffer v. Weast (2005) 546 U.S. 49, 57-58, 62 [126 S.Ct. 528, 163 L.Ed.2d 387]; and see 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C)(iii).) In this matter, Student filed the complaint and bears the burden of proof. The factual statements in this Decision constitute the written findings of fact required by the IDEA and state law. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(h)(4); Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (e)(5).) 


Student was 14 years old at the time of hearing. Student resided within Campbell Union's geographic boundaries at the times relevant to this Expedited Decision. Student's expedited issues concern only Campbell Union and not Morgan Hill. 


ISSUE 1: DID CAMPBELL UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT FAIL TO CONVENE A MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION MEETING PRIOR TO A CHANGE OF PLACEMENT OR THREAT OF EXPULSION DENYING STUDENT ACCESS TO HER EDUCATION OVER 37 DAYS DURING THE 2023-24 SCHOOL YEAR? 


BASIS OF KNOWLEDGE 

Student was suspended starting on August 17, 2023, for a conduct infraction on August 16, 2023. Student contends that although she had never been assessed for and made eligible for special education and related services, she was nevertheless entitled to the protections of the IDEA relating to discipline, suspension, and expulsion. Student relies on the provisions of the IDEA that extend its protections to students not previously identified as eligible for special education services if the school district had a “basis of knowledge” that the student was a child with a disability. Specifically, Student contends that, before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred on August 16, 2023, Campbell Union had a “basis of knowledge” that Student was a child with a disability.


Title 20 United States Code section 1415(k), and 34 Code of Federal Regulations part 300.530 et seq., govern the discipline of special education students. (Ed. Code,§ 48915.5.) A child with a disability may be suspended or expelled from school as provided by federal law. (Ed. Code, § 48915.5, subd. (a).) If a child with a disability violates a code of student conduct, school personnel may remove that student from his or her educational placement without providing services for a period not to exceed 10 days per school year, provided typical children are not provided services during disciplinary removal. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(B); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(b)(1) & (d)(3).)


Under federal and state special education law, students found eligible for special education are afforded certain rights in disciplinary matters. Among those rights is the right to a determination of whether the student's misconduct that led to a disciplinary change of placement was caused by or directly related to a child's disability. (20 U.S.C.§ 1415 (k)(1)(E)(i)(I); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530.) The removal of a special education student from the student's placement for more than 10 consecutive school days constitutes a change of placement. (34 C.F.R. § 300.536(a)(1).) For disciplinary changes in placement greater than 10 consecutive school days, or greater than 10 non-consecutive school days that are a pattern amounting to a change of placement, the disciplinary measures applicable to students without disabilities may only be applied to a special education student if the conduct resulting in discipline is determined not to have been a manifestation of the special education student's disability. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(C); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(c).) The IDEA prohibits the expulsion of a student with a disability for conduct that is a manifestation of her disability. (20 U.S.C. §1415(k); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530 et seq.; Doe v. Maher (9th Cir. 1986) 793 F.2d 1470, 1481-2, affd. sub. nom. Honig v. Doe (1988) 484 U.S. 305 [108 S.Ct. 592, 98 L.Ed.2d 686]).)


These protections extend to students not previously identified as eligible for special education and related services if the school district had knowledge, or is deemed to have had knowledge, that the student was a child with a disability before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred. (20 U.S.C. § 1415 (k)(5)(A); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(a).) A district that meets the statutory criteria for having the requisite knowledge is considered to have a “basis of knowledge.” (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(5)(B); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(b).) A local educational agency is deemed to have knowledge that a student is a child with a disability if, before the behavior that precipitated the disciplinary action occurred, either (i) the parent of the child has expressed concern in writing to supervisory or administrative personnel of the appropriate educational agency, or a teacher of the child, that the child is in need of special education and related services; or (ii) the parent of the child has requested an evaluation of the child pursuant to title 20 United States Code section 1414(a)(1)(B); or (iii) the teacher of the child, or other personnel of the local educational agency, has expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the child, directly to the director of special education or other supervisory personnel. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(5)(B); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(b).)


Here, the first two prongs of the basis of knowledge test were not met. Mother had concerns about Student, but she did not state them in writing prior to the incident in question here, nor had she specifically requested a special education assessment.


However, before the conduct in question here occurred, teachers and other personnel had expressed specific concerns about a pattern of behavior directly to supervisory personnel. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(5)(B)(3); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(b).) The concerns were specific, “rather than casual comments regarding the behaviors demonstrated by the child (71 Fed. Reg. 46727 (Aug. 14, 2006); See, e.g., Anaheim Union High Sch. Dist. v. J.E. (C.D. Cal., May 21, 2013, No. CV 12-6588-MWF (JCx) 2013 WL 2359651, at *6 [basis of knowledge established where assistant principal attended a Section 504 meeting at which teachers discussed the student's panic attacks and inability to complete work].)


In or around November 2022, Student enrolled in Campbell Union from her former school district, Morgan Hill. On or around November 9, 2022, assistant principal Stephanie Day entered a note in Campbell Union's on-line “Discipline Alert” log concerning a behavior incident. Due to a dispute over where a ball had been thrown and whether it was an accident, Student had engaged in verbal conflict with another student and then punched her in the shoulder.


On or around December 15, 2022 a staff member or teacher filled out a school record entitled “Staff Notification of Dangerous Student.” No testimony established the purpose of this document, which stated that it had been verbally reviewed with the principal and assistant principal.


On or around January 3, 2023, teacher Nicole Wallworth logged that Student had written notes using profanity. On or around January 31, 2023, Wallworth logged that Student had shouted and argued with another student. On or around January 31, 2023, Wallworth logged that Student had gotten into a shouting match and almost fought two days in a row with another student before teachers broke it up.


On February 6, another staff member logged verbal shouting matches and threats of fighting. On February 7, 2023, Wallworth logged that Student took a pair of crutches away from another student. On February 17, 2023, Wallworth logged that Student was cursing and then denied it.


On March 28, 2023, assistant principal Day logged that Student smacked another student in the back then began swearing when Day counselled her. Also on March 28, 2023, Mother consented to a 504 plan that provided accommodations for Student's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to facilitate her learning. The 504 accommodations did not address behavior and did not contain any references to any behavioral incidents. Further log entries in May and June referenced Student using inappropriate language and racial slurs.


At hearing, teacher Wallworth stated that the log was a communication system from teachers to Campbell Union's administration. Her understanding was that any log entry would be reported to district administrators. To her understanding, the log was a written record of behavior entries that the administration reviewed. Wallworth indicated that some of her log entries were made on behalf of other teachers about incidents that they, not she, had witnessed. Wallworth also stated that not all log entries were contemporaneous with the events, which might have occurred a few days prior. 


The concerns stated in the logs were specific, “rather than casual comments regarding the behaviors demonstrated by the child.” (71 Fed. Reg. 46727 (Aug. 14, 2006).) They were specific, and direct communications from teachers and staff to the administrators sufficient to establish a basis of knowledge that Student might be a child with a disability. The logs were created for the purposes of communication between teachers and administrators and were sent by teachers who understood they were to be reviewed by the administration. Wallworth's testimony established that even when she did not explicitly bring the logged event to administrators' attention, she had an expectation that the entries would be reviewed by supervisors. Moreover, Day was a supervisor, and herself appears to have logged several entries.


Student's prior behavioral incidents constituted a “pattern of behavior.” A “pattern” is recurrent, similar, or related events of behavior implicating outwardly observable characteristics and actions. (Anaheim Union High Sch. Dist. v. J.E., supra, at *4.) Student had punched, smacked and assaulted, shouted, argued and fought on at least eight occasions that teachers had documented with the understanding that they were communicating their concerns to supervisory personnel.


The "basis of knowledge" criteria is clearly stated and should not be expanded or broadened. The IDEA 2004 reauthorization made several changes to title 20 United States Code section 1415 (k)(5)(A), narrowing the circumstances under which a district is deemed to have knowledge that a child is a child with a disability. Under previous law, a district was deemed to have knowledge that a child is a child with a disability if the behavior or performance of the child demonstrated the need for such services. This provision was deleted because a teacher could make a stray, isolated comment to another teacher expressing concern about behavior, and that could trigger the protections. (Sen. Rep. No. 108-185, pp. 45-46, 1st Session (2003).) Thus Congress, when reauthorizing the IDEA, narrowed the "basis of knowledge" criteria due to the “unintended consequence of providing a shield against the ability of a school to be able to appropriately discipline a student.” (See 71 Fed. Reg. 46726-27 (Aug. 14, 2006) [quoting Sen. Rep. No. 108-185, p. 46, 1st Session (2003).]) The intent of Congress was to ensure that “schools can appropriately discipline students, while maintaining protections for students whom the school had a valid reason to know had a disability.” (Id.) Congress struck this balance by requiring specific facts about patterns and communications before imputing knowledge to a school district.


Such facts are demonstrated here. Before August 16, 2023, Student's teachers and other personnel had “expressed specific concerns” directly “to . . . supervisory personnel” about a “pattern of behavior Student demonstrated.” (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(5)(B)(3); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(b).) These facts establish that Campbell Union should be deemed to have had a basis of knowledge that Student might be a child with a disability.


Because Campbell Union had a basis of knowledge that Student was a child with a disability, certain rights and protections extended to Student even though she was not previously identified as eligible for special education and related services. (20 U.S.C. § 1415 (k)(5)(A); 34 C.F.R. § 300.534(a).) Among those rights is the right to a determination of whether Student's misconduct that led to a disciplinary change of placement was caused by or directly related to her disability, if the change of placement exceeded 10 days. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(E)(i); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530.) 


THERE WAS A CHANGE OF PLACEMENT THAT EXCEEDED 10 DAYS


A “change of placement” is a fundamental change in, or elimination of, a basic element of a child's educational program. (34 C.F.R. § 300.536(a).) Expulsion or suspension for more than 10 days is a “change of placement.” (Honig v. Doe (1988) 484 U.S. 305.) In California, “specific educational placement” is broadly defined as “that unique combination of facilities, personnel, location or equipment necessary to provide instructional services to an individual with exceptional needs.” (5 C.C.R. § 3042.)


A change in placement occurs if the removal is for more than 10 consecutive schools days, or the child is subjected to a series of removals that constitute a pattern because they cumulate to more than 10 school days in a school year, and amount to a change in placement because of factors such as the length of each removal, the total amount of time the child is removed, and the proximity of the removals to one another. (34 C.F.R. § 300.519.) 

Here, Campbell Union's actions amounted to a change of placement exceeding 10 days. 


AUGUST 16, 2023 EVENT AND IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH 


Student attended Campbell School of Innovation, called CSI. The principal was Ms. Godfrey. The assistant principal was Stephanie Day. Their supervisor was Pablo Viramontes, Director of Student Services. His duties comprised discipline, counselling, attendance and truancy issues. His offices were not located on the CSI campus, as he oversaw the entire district. 


On August 16, 2023, the first day of school for the 2023-24 school year, Student became involved in a verbal and physical fight, the details of which are not pertinent to this expedited Decision, except insofar as principal Godfrey deemed that the incident warranted formal discipline. After the fight on August 16, 2023, Godfrey informed Mother by telephone that Student would be suspended for five days. Godfrey generated a written document entitled “Parent Notice of Suspension.” According to that Notice, Student's first day of suspension was August 17, 2023 and her return date was August 24, 2023 unless extended. Godfrey testified credibly that she never considered expulsion for this first suspension, and considered that after the five days had elapsed Student could return to school at CSI. Her testimony was consistent with the documentation. Godfrey was direct and clear, based on her personal knowledge and recollection, and was credible that Student was never facing expulsion as far as Godfrey was concerned.


Mother was upset about the five-day suspension, so Godfrey referred her to Viramontes. He took over the communications with Mother after August 16, 2023. 


AUGUST 17-27 


Except for a few log entries which do not resolve conflicting testimony, no contemporaneous documents exist concerning the communications that transpired between August 17 and August 27. These events are at the crux of this case. Viramontes's testimony conflicted with both Godfrey's and Mother's. 


Viramontes recalled, inconsistently with Godfrey, that the CSI school administrators first elected to impose a three-day suspension which was then expanded to five days. At hearing, he testified he was “positive” that the suspension had been three days expanded to five. This recollection is inconsistent both with the documentary record and with Godfrey's more direct knowledge. 


Viramontes recalled that Godfrey and Day wanted to either expel Student or move her to an alternate school location. Viramontes testified that the school site administrators wanted to pursue expulsion if Student were to return to CSI. However, at hearing, principal Godfrey had no recollection of this and appeared perplexed as to why expulsion would have been considered for this first suspension. Godfrey did not recall discussing or contemplating expulsion. Her recollection is more firsthand, contemporaneous and consistent with the documentary records than Viramontes's. Taking the conflicting testimony into account, it appears that the idea of expulsion or transfer was generated at some point, but not by principal Godfrey, and it remains unclear who generated this idea or why.


After August 17, Viramontes was handling communication with Mother. In his recollection, a decision had been made to transfer Student away from CSI and move her to Rolling Hills Middle School. Viramontes met with Mother and Student on or around August 21. At that meeting, he informed them that Student's behavior had constituted an expellable offense. In lieu of expulsion, he told them that CSI “wanted to pursue a transfer” to an alternative school location, Rolling Hills Middle School. Viramontes confirmed at hearing that he told Student she could not return to CSI. He told her that the principal at CSI would pursue expulsion if she were to return, and that returning would put her at risk of having an expulsion on her record.


Viramontes's testimony as noted above conflicted with Godfrey's. Godfrey did not contemplate expelling Student nor transferring her. Viramontes also was inconsistent, at hearing, about whether he threatened Student with expulsion. At first he confirmed that he did tell Mother that the principal at CSI would pursue expulsion if Student were to return. Later, on cross-examination, he stated that he did not tell Student she would be expelled. According to this version of events, expulsion was being considered at one point, but administration decided instead to offer transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School as an “option.” Taking the conflicting testimony into account, it appears that as of August 21, Mother and Student were in fact told that returning to CSI was not an option and would result in expulsion, but that Student could move to Rolling Hills Middle School.


A day or two later, on or about August 23, Viramontes called Mother to follow up on the transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School. Mother and her advocate were on that phone call. They were not interested in the transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School. They expressed concerns about Student's safety at CSI.


While the transfer was being encouraged, Viramontes excused Student's continuing absences following her five-day suspension and August 24, 2023 return date. Thus, absences of August 24-25 were excused. Later log entries excused Student's absences through August 28, 2023. August 29 would be the fourth school day after the five-day suspension had elapsed, and the ninth school day of Student's absence from school.


At some point after the August 23, 2023 phone call with Mother, the freedom to return to CSI arose as an option. It thus appears that Viramontes, at some point, backed off of the position he had taken that transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School was the only option to avoid expulsion. Thus, at some point Viramontes floated with Mother the idea of a “safety plan,” to be implemented at either CSI or Rolling Hills Middle School. Although the idea of the “safety plan” first arose as a result of Mother's expressed concerns about Student's safety, it morphed into a requirement Viramontes imposed to permit Student to return to either school.


AUGUST 28


The parties participated in a Zoom meeting on or about August 28. At the Zoom meeting, Viramontes told Mother that Student could indeed return to CSI with a safety plan. Viramontes testified that the change of heart to permit Student to return to CSI had occurred after consultation with the principals at CSI to explore options other than expulsion. But, Godfrey did not confirm that any such events had occurred.


At the Zoom meeting, Viramontes intended to schedule a meeting for the next day, August 29, that would then permit Student to return to CSI. He intended to schedule the meeting with Student to fill out the details of the safety plan, prior to her returning to school. However, Mother did not agree to that schedule during the Zoom meeting.


After the Zoom meeting, the parties started documenting their positions in emails. In short, Mother's emails did not agree to Viramontes's “safety plan” requirement for Student's return to school at either CSI or Rolling Hills Middle School. Viramontes's emails reiterated that requirement. The 10th school day from the August 17, 2023 suspension was August 30, 2023. Student did not return to either CSI or Rolling Hills Middle School on that day or for some time thereafter.


Viramontes's testimony was vague and ambiguous as to whether the various options he presented to Student were suggestions or requirements. He testified that he “does not think he ever presented the safety plan as required.” But he later testified that the return to CSI was indeed conditioned on the safety plan. The documents he generated on August 28 confirm that the safety plan was imposed as a requirement to returning to school either at CSI or Rolling Hills Middle School. Thus, in one of Viramontes's emails on August 28, 2023, he told Mother that a response to the safety plan was “necessary.” And, in a cover letter of the same date, he stated that both of the two options available to Student would have the safety plan, which required an “intake meeting.”


Viramontes's actions amounted to an extension of the original five-day suspension to at least the ninth day after the incident, which was August 29, 2023. As of August 28, 2023, Student was presented with two options, to transfer to another school entirely, or to return to CSI but only if she participated in and agreed to a safety plan on August 29. Both of these options would require that an “intake meeting” be held to go over the details of the “safety plan.”


The imposition of these requirements, when viewed against the backdrop of Viramontes's original threat of expulsion, then his insistence that Student transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School, then his ambiguous change of heart allowing her to return to CSI on certain conditions, amounted to a change of placement of at least nine days. During the remaining day between August 29, 2023 and the 10th day, August 30, 2023, Mother was understandably confused by District's shifting stance, and was understandably frightened about returning Student to school. These conditions were wholly created by Campbell Union.


Campbell Union argues that all that occurred was a change in location, which they argue is not always a change in placement. Cambell Union argues that a “placement “is a point along the child's continuum of placement options, while a “location” is a physical location where the child receives related services, such as a classroom. The United States Department of Education, in its Analysis of Comments and Changes to 2006 IDEA Part B Regulations, stated that the terms “placement” and “educational placement” throughout the regulations did not require clarification to specify location, supports and services. "The Department's longstanding position is that placement refers to the provision of special education and related services rather than to a specific place, such as a specific classroom or specific school." (71 Fed.Reg. 46687 (August 14, 2006).) The Department further explained, "maintaining a child's placement in an educational program that is substantially and materially similar to the former placement is not a change in placement. We do not believe further clarification is necessary in the regulations, however, as the distinction seems to be commonly accepted and understood." (71 Fed. Regs. 46588-89 (August 14, 2006).) A change in location alone will not constitute a change in educational placement unless it substantially and materially alters the student's educational program. (Letter to Fisher, OSEP (1994).)


Campbell Union also argues that the Ninth Circuit has defined "educational placement" to be "the general educational program of the student." (N.D. v. Hawaii Department of Educ. (9th Cir. 2010) 600 F.3d 1104, 1116 [finding furloughs and school closures did not result in a change in educational placement].) More specifically, the Ninth Circuit concluded, "under the IDEA a change in educational placement relates to whether the student is moved from one type of program - i.e., regular class - to another type - i.e., home instruction. A change in the educational placement can also result when there is a significant change in the student's program even if the student remains in the same setting." (Id.)


Cambell Union further argues that its “offer to change Student's location to Rolling Hills Middle School for safety reasons” did not constitute a change in placement because “all services, supports, programs replicate what was offered at CSI.” 


None of these authorities are persuasive, insofar as they do not address California's definition of “specific educational placement” to include facilities and location. (5 C.C.R. § 3042.) Moreover, here, the factual backdrop is more than a simple change of a program from one location to another. It began with a threat of expulsion that school administrators did not recommend even though Viramontes told Mother they had. It continued with an insistence on a transfer to Rolling Hills Middle School, and then a backing off of that position to an allowance to return to CSI with a “safety plan,” that was imposed as a requirement to be finalized on the ninth day out. Viramontes's testimony was shifting and inconsistent both about these events and the reasons for them. Given this ambiguity about what happened and why, Mother and Student were justifiably bewildered when faced first with expulsion and then with an ambiguous series of requirements to return to school, and on what conditions. Therefore, Student did not return to school on Cambell Union's conditions on the 10th day or for some time thereafter. Student would have been unable to return to her placement on August 30, 2023 without the condition Campbell Union imposed. Since the situation was entirely of Campbell Union's creation, on these specific facts, Cambell Union should be deemed to have imposed a disciplinary change of placement that exceeded 10 days. “Ultimately, it is the IEP team for the child (or a hearing officer or judge in the event of a disagreement between the school and the parents) that makes the individual determination as to whether a series of removals constitutes a pattern when considered in the aggregate for purposes of 34 C.F.R. § 300.519.“ (Letter to Zirkel, OSEP (April 16, 2001).) Here, the original five-day suspension was extended to nine days by virtue of “excused absences,” followed by imposition of conditions on Student before she would be permitted to return on the 10th day. Such facts constitute a removal for more than 10 schools days.


STUDENT WAS ENTITLED TO A MANIFESTATION DETERMINATION 


Because Student was subjected to a disciplinary change of placement that exceeded 10 days and because Campbell Union also had a basis of knowledge that Student was a student with a disability, she was entitled to a manifestation determination. When a district seeks to change a special education student's educational placement for more than 10 school days as a result of a violation of a student code of conduct, the district must convene a meeting to determine whether the child's conduct was a manifestation of the child's disability. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(E); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(e).) This is known as a manifestation determination. A manifestation determination must be made by the school district, the parent, and relevant members of the individualized education program team as determined by the parent and the school district. (Ibid.) A manifestation determination must be accomplished within 10 school days of the decision to change the student's placement. (Ibid.) All relevant information in the student's file, including any observations of teachers, and any relevant information from the parents must be reviewed to determine if the conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability, or was the direct result of the district's failure to implement the student's individualized education program. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(E); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(e)(1).)


The IDEA requires that at the meeting, “all relevant information in the student's file, including . . . any teacher observations, and any relevant information provided by the parents” shall be reviewed, to determine if the conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability, or was the direct result of the district's failure to implement the student's IEP. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(E); 34 C.F.R. § 300.530(e)(1).) The statutory list of relevant information to be reviewed is “not exhaustive and may include other relevant information in the child's file.” (71 Fed. Reg. 46719 (Aug. 14, 2006).)


CONCLUSIONS AND PREVAILING PARTY


As required by California Education Code section 56507, subdivision (d), the hearing decision must indicate the extent to which each party has prevailed on each issue heard and decided.


Issue 1: Campbell Union School District failed to convene a manifestation determination meeting prior to a change of placement or threat of expulsion denying Student access to her education over 37 days during the 2023-24 school year. Student prevailed on Issue 1.


REMEDIES


Cambell Union shall convene a manifestation determination meeting within 10 school days of this Expedited Decision, to determine whether Student's conduct was a manifestation of the child's disability. The manifestation determination will be made by the school district, the parent, and relevant members of the individualized education program team as determined by both the parent and the school district. All relevant information in Student's file, including any observations of teachers, and any relevant information from the parents must be reviewed to determine if the conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability. The statutory list of relevant information to be reviewed is not exhaustive and may include other relevant information in the child's file. After the manifestation determination, Student has the right to an appeal of the manifestation determination. (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(G).)


ORDER


1. Cambell Union shall convene a manifestation determination meeting within 10 school days of this Expedited Decision, to determine whether Student's conduct was a manifestation of her disability. 


2. The manifestation determination will be made by the school district, the parent, and relevant members of the individualized education program team as determined by both the parent and the school district.


3. All relevant information in Student's file, including any observations of teachers, and any relevant information from the parents must be reviewed to determine if the conduct was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability. 


4. After the manifestation determination, Student has the right to an appeal of the manifestation determination.


RIGHT TO APPEAL THIS DECISION


This is a final administrative decision, and all parties are bound by it. Pursuant to Education Code section 56505, subdivision (k), any party may appeal this Decision to a court of competent jurisdiction within 90 days of receipt.


June Lehrman 
Administrative Law Judge 
Office of Administrative Hearings

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