Dracut Sch. Comm. v. Bureau of Special Educ. Appeals of the Mass. Dep't of Elem. & Secondary Educ.

737 F. Supp. 2d 35 (D. Mass. 2010)



The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C.S. §§ 1400-1482, requires that a school district provide appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. 20 U.S.C.S. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(aa). While an individualized education program itself must be updated annually, transition assessments must only be age appropriate.


Finding that plaintiff school did not provide defendant student with a free appropriate public education (FAPE), a hearing officer for defendant state special education agency ordered the school to provide compensatory services and hire two of the student's experts as consultants. Pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the school sought review of those orders. Cross-motions for summary judgment were before the court. The hearing officer found that the school denied the student, who suffered from Asperger's Syndrome, a FAPE by providing inadequate transition services while the student was in high school. The court held that he hearing officer's conclusion that the school failed to comply with the procedural requirements of 20 U.S.C.S. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII) was supported by the record because the school did not properly assess the student's vocational skills and the student's individualized education programs (IEPs) did not contain appropriate transition goals related to the student's pragmatic language deficits. The procedural violations denied the student a FAPE because the student's pragmatic language deficits affected his ability to transition from high school to other settings in a critical way, the IEPs were not reasonably calculated to confer any meaningful educational benefit with respect to the pragmatic language deficits, the student did not receive vocational services in the community, and the student did not receive services that were reasonably calculated to support independent living outside of high school, such as maintaining self-hygiene and learning transportation skills.


Was the hearing officer correct in ordering the school to provide compensatory services and hire two of the student's experts as consultants?




The court allowed in part the school's motion for summary for summary judgment and the student's motion for summary judgment. The court reversed the order extending the student's IDEA eligibility. The court reversed the order requiring the school to hire the student's experts. The court remanded the case so the hearing officer could determine what compensatory services were needed in the areas of employment and independent living.

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