Facts: The bilingual student had been identified as eligible for special education as a student with a speech impairment by her prior school district, in large part based on parental request. When the student enrolled in Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, a new full and individual evaluation (FIE) was performed. The FIE noted that the student was a bilingual English-Spanish speaker and that while the student’s native language was Spanish the child’s academic language was English. English was identified as the dominant language. As with the prior school district’s FIE, the new FIE also showed the student’s speech and language skills were in the average range and commensurate with the student’s status as an ESL (English as a Second Language) learner. The District also provided the parents a number of independent educational evaluations (IEE’s) at parent request.
Based on the results of the cognitive and achievement testing, classroom observation, and behavioral and emotional data, the student did not meet eligibility criteria as a student with a specific learning disability. In addition, although the student had various health needs, school staff concluded they could be adequately handled by the campus without the need for special services. The student was provided Response to Intervention (RtI) – Tier II reading services to address parental concerns. By the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the student exceeded grade level reading expectations and was on grade level in all academic areas. The parents requested a due process hearing to challenge the district’s eligibility determinations and the educational program provided to the student.
Holding: The hearing officer upheld the district’s eligibility determinations. The district conducted an FIE demonstrating student academic performance commensurate with the student’s intellectual ability, acquiring and demonstrating expressive and receptive language skills given the student’s status as a bilingual learner. The student was performing well in the classroom, on grade level, and within average range on most measures. The student’s various medical conditions did not affect the student’s ability to learn or need for special education. The student’s educational needs for additional support in reading, handwriting, and math were adequately addressed with RtI services within the regular education program and classroom. The student’s nutritional needs were monitored by district staff and were met through district health services available to all children.
On the issue of whether the district provided the student with a free appropriate public education (FAPE), the hearing officer concluded that the district implemented the student’s IEP that addressed the need to develop language skills and ensure intelligibility of speech. The services implemented by the district provided the student with FAPE.