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N.G. v. Dist. of Columbia

March 31, 2008

N.G.,ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ET AL.*FN1 DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

N.G. and her parents Manuel Gomez and Sylvia Correa bring this action against the District of Columbia seeking reversal of a Hearing Officer's decision that the District did not violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. ("IDEA")*fn2 or the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that the Hearing Officer's determination which found that the District of Columbia Public Schools ("DCPS") had fulfilled its duties to N.G. in 2003 and separately affirmed DCPS's 2005 finding of ineligibility for special education is not supported by the evidence of record or the applicable law. See Pl.'s Mot. 2. Plaintiffs contend that the District violated the "Child Find" provision of the IDEA first in 2003 by failing to recognize N.G.'s "potentially disabling conditions, and again in 2005, when it failed either to gather relevant information or to properly interpret the information it had." Id. Accordingly, Plaintiffs contend that the District's failings required them to find and fund an appropriate placement for N.G. outside of DCPS. As is their right under the IDEA, Plaintiffs now seek reimbursement for the cost of three years of private school education for N.G. The District counters that the Hearing Officer's decision was proper and should be upheld. Both parties have moved for summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motions, the responses and replies thereto, the applicable law, and the complete administrative record in this case, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion and DENIES Defendants' cross motion.

I. Legal Framework

A. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The IDEA was enacted to assure that children with educational disabilities obtain a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") designed to meet their unique needs. See 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq.; see Reid v. District of Columbia, 401 F.3d 516, 524 (D.C. Cir. 2005). The Act requires participating states to educate a wide spectrum of disabled children, "from the marginally hearing impaired to the profoundly retarded and palsied." Bd. of Educ. of the Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist., Westchester County v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 202 (1982). The benefits obtainable by children at one end of the spectrum will differ dramatically from those obtainable by children at the other, with infinite variations in between. Id.

To meet this goal, all public education agencies are required to have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that:

All children with disabilities residing in the State, including children who are homeless or wards of the state and children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disability, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located and evaluated and a practical method is developed and implemented to determine which children are currently receiving needed special education and related services.

20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(A). This mandate is known as the "Child Find" obligation, an affirmative obligation of every public school system to identify students who might be disabled and evaluate those students to determine whether they are indeed eligible. As soon as a child is identified as a potential candidate for services, DCPS has the duty to locate that child and complete the evaluation process. Failure to locate and evaluate a potentially disabled child constitutes a denial of FAPE. See Hawkins ex rel. D.C. v. District of Columbia, 2008 WL 632588, *6 (D.D.C. March 7, 2008)(finding that DCPS's duty to locate potentially disabled students extends to migrants, homeless students, unenrolled students, and those not yet of school age); see also District of Columbia v. Abramson, 493 F. Supp. 2d 80, 85 (D.D.C. 2007)(finding Child Find violation and denial of FAPE where DCPS failed to evaluate student attending a residential therapeutic private school in Connecticut when student maintained his D.C. residency).

Once potentially disabled students are identified and located, the local educational agency must conduct an evaluation to determine whether the child is a child with a disability. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(2)(i). In conducting the evaluation, the local educational agency "shall use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining" whether the child is disabled under the Act. Id. Once the child is determined to be eligible, a team including the child's parents and select teachers, as well as a representative of the local educational agency with knowledge about the school's resources and curriculum, develops an "individualized education program" or "IEP" for the child. Reid, 401 F.3d at 519. "The IEP must, at a minimum, provide personalized instruction with sufficient support services to permit the child to benefit educationally from that instruction." Id. (quoting Bd. of Educ. of the Hendrick Hudson Cent. Sch. Dist., Westchester County v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 203 (1982)). While the grading and advancement system constitutes an important factor in determining educational benefit, not every handicapped child who is advancing from grade to grade in a regular public school is automatically receiving a FAPE. Rowley, 458 U.S. at 202.

Parents of disabled children have the right to participate in the identification, evaluation, and placement process. Scorah v. District of Columbia, 322 F. Supp. 2d 12, 14 (D.D.C. 2004) (citing 20 U.S.C. § § 1414(f), 1415(b)(1)). "Parents who object to their child's identification, evaluation or educational placement are entitled to an impartial due process hearing at which they have a right to be accompanied and advised by counsel." Id. (internal citations omitted). "DCPS shall bear the burden of proof, based solely on the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing, that the action or proposed placement is adequate to meet the educational needs of the student." Id. (quoting 5 D.C. Mun. Regs. § 3022.16).*fn3 Parents aggrieved by a hearing officer's finding and decisions may bring a civil action in either state or federal court without regard to the amount in controversy. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2). The Supreme Court has held that Section 1415(e) "confers broad discretion on the court to order relief appropriate in light of the purposes of the Act." See Minor Roca, et al., v. District of Columbia, 2005 WL 681462,*3 (D.D.C. March 14, 2005)(ordering reimbursement for private school placement when DCPS failed to properly evaluate student and formulate appropriate IEP). This includes the power "to order school authorities to reimburse parents for their expenditures on private special education for the child if the court ultimately determines that such placement, rather than a proposed IEP, is proper under the Act.'" Florence County Sch. Dist. Four v. Carter by and Through Carter, 510 U.S. 7, 11 (1993) (quoting School Comm. of Burlington v. Dep't of Educ. of Mass., 417 U.S. 359, 369 (1985)).

B. Standard of Review

Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if the pleadings on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 56(c). Material facts are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Tao v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994). In considering whether there is a triable issue of fact, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Id.

In reviewing cases under the IDEA, courts will receive the records of the administrative proceedings, hear additional evidence at the request of a party, and make a decision based on the preponderance of the evidence. See 20 U.S.C. § 1415 (i)(2)(C). The role of the reviewing court under the IDEA is two-fold. Scorah, 322 F. Supp. 2d at 18 (citing Rowley, 458 U.S. at 206). First, it must determine whether DCPS has complied with the procedural requirements of the IDEA. Second, it must determine whether the individualized educational program developed through the Act's procedures is reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits. Id.

Judicial review under IDEA is more rigorous than in typical agency cases.*fn4 Reid, 401 F.3d at 521. However, "a party challenging the administrative determination must at least take on the burden of persuading the court that the hearing officer was wrong, and the court upsetting the officer's decision must at least explain its basis for doing so." Id. (citing Kerkam v. McKenzie, 862 F.2d 884, 887 (D.C. Cir. 1989) ("Kerkam I"). Although the Court must give "due weight" to the administrative proceedings, id., a hearing officer's decision "without reasoned and specific findings deserves little deference." See Kerkam v. Superintendent, D.C. Pub. Schs., 931 F.2d 84, 87 (D.C. Cir. 1991) ("Kerkam II") (internal quotation marks omitted).

II. Discussion

A. Factual Background

N.G. entered DCPS in 1991, enrolling in Lafayette Elementary School, where she experienced no difficulties and performed well academically. She continued on to Alice Deal Junior High School where she also met academic success, but began to exhibit some emotional and behavioral problems in her eighth grade year. Due to a behavioral incident, N.G. had to spend the last month of eighth grade at Hardy Junior High School. She returned to Deal in ninth grade, but began exhibiting low self-esteem, telling her parents that "everyone hated her" including the principal and her teachers. She was reluctant to go to school and appeared sad.

R. 618. In the spring of that year, N.G. attempted suicide by ingesting a bottle of aspirin. She had to have her stomach pumped and was hospitalized in the pediatric mental health unit of Georgetown University Hospital for five days where she was formally diagnosed with clinical depression. N.G. missed approximately two weeks of school due to this incident and her parents notified DCPS of the reason for her absence. Id. at 620.

N.G. entered DCPS's Woodrow Wilson Senior High School ("Wilson") in tenth grade for the 2002-2003 school year. After N.G.'s first report card was issued, her parents discovered that her grades were extremely low and that her attendance had been erratic. R. 625. Ms. Correa testified she was shocked by the poor report card and immediately asked N.G.'s teachers for help, saying she was committed to N.G.'s regular school attendance.

Id. In January 2003, DCPS warned Ms. Correa and Mr. Gomez that N.G. was at risk for removal from the international studies program in which she was enrolled unless she improved her grades. At that time, her grade point average was 1.4, the equivalent of a D. Pl.s' Mot. at 4-5.

Later that month, Mr. Gomez and Ms. Correa had N.G. tested by Dr. Alexandra Cargo, a clinical psychologist. Dr. Cargo did not formally diagnose N.G. with either depression or ADHD, but her clinical report indicated that while N.G.'s intellectual abilities were in the superior range, she had "weaknesses in her organizational and attending skills, restlessness, inefficiencies in her perceptual organization, a tendency toward distractibility, lack of attention to details and deadlines, poor coping resources, emotional lability,*fn5 chronic irritability and mild anxiety." Id. at 5. Dr. Cargo's report indicated that N.G.'s teachers did not respond to Dr. Cargo's request for evaluations. R. 214. Dr. Cargo also reported that N.G. told her she "cut" school with a friend and often left to go get food or go to someone's house, that she frequently feels very sad, and that she is nervous and worried about school and things at home. Id. at 210, 213. Among other things, Dr. Cargo recommended individual tutoring and consultation with a psychiatrist for a possible medication trial to reduce N.G.'s emotional lability, chronic mild depression, anxiety, and tendency to pick her skin. Pl's Mot. at 6. Ms. Correa gave this report to several of N.G.'s teachers, the school counselor, Dr. Tarason, the Wilson principal, and Ms. Gaines, the vice principal. R. 632.

Following up on Dr. Cargo's indication that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ("ADHD") might be an issue, R. 213, Ms. Correa sought out an ADHD expert, eventually connecting with Dr. Carol Robbins. Id. at 632. After conducting her own evaluations, Dr. Robbins diagnosed N.G. with ADHD and major depression. Id. at 250. N.G. began weekly individual therapy sessions with Dr. Robbins in February and she also began seeing a child psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Brain. Id. at 634. Dr. Brain also diagnosed N.G. with ADHD and a mood disorder and prescribed medication. Id. at 305.

In April 2003, during a therapy session with Dr. Robbins, Dr. Robbins determined that N.G. was severely depressed and evidencing suicidal intent. Id. at 634. She recommended immediate hospitalization due to the severity of N.G.'s condition. Id. N.G.'s parents took her to Children's Hospital where N.G. was evaluated by the psychiatrist on call who also recommended immediate hospitalization. Id. at 637. N.G. was hospitalized at Children's Hospital for 11 days. According to the discharge summary report, the hospital indicated that N.G. had suffered from "major depressive disorder" since she was twelve years old. Id. at 233. Ms. Correa testified that the psychiatrists at Children's Hospital instructed her to "work with the school" to set up a "disability program" and support system for N.G. because she would need a lot of support. Id. at 638. In addition to medication and therapy, they also told her that N.G. needed "lots of teacher attention, lots of one-on-one, lots of focused work, [and] small classes." Id. at 639.

Immediately after N.G. was hospitalized, Ms. Correa delivered letters to N.G.'s teachers and Dr. Tarason detailing what had happened and requested help gathering N.G.'s assignments and supporting her during this difficult time. R. 226, 640. Four days later, on April 26, 2003, Mr. Gomez wrote a follow up letter to Dr. Tarason expressing disappointment that only one of N.G.'s teachers had responded to the request and also requesting that the school convene a meeting to "review the relevant circumstances and prepare a '504 plan'*fn6 to support [N.G.] upon her return to school." Id. at 227. Mr. Gomez also indicated that the circumstances necessitating N.G.'s hospitalization "have affected her performance practically all year, but we are only now understanding their full extent." Id.

On May 4, 2003, Dr. Robbins wrote to Dr. Tarason informing him of N.G.'s diagnoses of ADHD and major depression. R. 250. She provided N.G.'s treatment history and the various ways in which N.G.'s conditions affected her, including "inattention, distractibility, impulsivity, disorganization, inefficiency, poor time management, inconsistent follow-through, procrastination, poor working memory, low frustration tolerance, and low self-esteem." Id. Dr. Robbins also specifically indicated that N.G. was disabled, stating,

N.G. is currently experiencing severe clinical depression and is in inpatient treatment at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Upon discharge, she will need to have her handicapping conditions addressed by the school, with appropriate accommodations made to assist her in reaching her academic potential.... A very bright, talented and engaging young woman, she has been suffering emotionally and academically due to her untreated ADHD and depression. I will be working with her, her family, and hopefully the school to make sure that appropriate accommodations are made for her....

Id. In addition to the general request that Wilson "address" N.G.'s "handicapping conditions," Dr. Robbins also specifically proposed some accommodations and further encouraged Dr. Tarason and N.G.'s teachers to work together to assist her, stating,

She would benefit greatly from some standard educational accommodations (a 504 plan), such as being seated near the front of the classroom, being provided organizational assistance, being reminded to hand in homework assignments, being provided academic assistance/tutoring when needed, and being given extended time on tests. Please encourage her teachers to work with her to make appropriate modifications to her academic requirements, such that she will be able to make up work from both prior to and during her current psychiatric hospitalization.... As a result of her current fragile emotional state, she may well also need to make use of a crisis counselor, or have a safe place to go if she becomes overwhelmed or upset during the school day.

Id. Dr. Robbins concluded her letter encouraging Dr. Tarason to contact her if additional information was needed "in order for [N.G.] to qualify for the necessary accommodations." Id.

Dr. Robbins wrote a second letter on June 3, 2003, this time recommending to Ms. Gaines, the vice principal, that N.G. be allowed to drop her math class without penalty for medical reasons and suggesting that she be permitted to retake math in the fall. R. 252. In this letter, Dr. Robbins again reiterated N.G.'s recent ADHD and depression diagnoses, and also indicated that N.G. was unable to take medication for her ADHD at that time, "so it is even more difficult for her to focus, manage her time, motivate herself and be efficient." Id.; see also R. 819 (Testimony of Dr. Robbins indicating that N.G. could not take ADHD medication during initial treatment with antidepressants). No one from DCPS contacted Dr. Robbins or N.G.'s parents in response to any of these letters.

On or around May 8, 2003, Wilson convened what "everyone called a 504 conference" in response to Mr. Gomez's request.

Pl.'s Mot. at 10. Ms. Correa testified that she believed the meeting had to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act and understood that the purpose of the meeting would be to discuss "how the school could help us get her in a situation that she could be in and do well in." R. 642. In addition to N.G.'s parents, the school counselor, three of N.G.'s teachers, and her private tutor attended the meeting. Her four other teachers did not attend, nor did an administrator or the special education coordinator. Id.

According Ms. Correa's uncontroverted testimony, the focus of the "504 conference" was how to get N.G. to pass the tenth grade. Id. at 643 ("It was a short-term focus of getting her through -- it was clear they didn't want her repeating the tenth grade."). The discussion focused solely on what assignments needed to be completed by when and what could be excused. Id. Ms. Correa testified that no "plan" was made, none of the accommodations recommended by Dr. Robbins were discussed and no one suggested that N.G. be evaluated under the IDEA. Id. When asked about the outcome of the meeting, Ms. Correa answered, "I still don't know. Nothing-- we didn't come out of there with a plan; we didn't come out of there with a piece ... of paper as a result of that meeting. There wasn't a discussion, there was nothing." R. 645. When Ms. Correa went to meet with the vice principal after Dr. Robbins recommended N.G. drop math to reduce her stress levels, Ms. Correa discovered that the vice principal did not even know a meeting had taken place. Id. ("And I had to tell her that we had all these problems and ...that we had had a meeting with the teachers and all that. She didn't know. There was nothing planned.") Following the conference, N.G.'s parents again corresponded by email with the individual teachers who did not attend, requesting accommodations and indicating that "there are very concrete medical reasons for N.G.'s behavior" and "a lot of the acting out that you saw was spurred on by her undiagnosed depression and ADHD." R. 244. Both Dr. Tarason and Ms. Hansen, the school counselor, were copied on these messages. Though she failed four of her classes, the year ended in mid-June and N.G. was promoted to the eleventh grade. Id. at 92.

On August 8, 2003, Ms. Correa returned to Wilson to register N.G. for the eleventh grade. According to her hearing testimony, Ms. Correa saw Ms. Hansen, the school counselor, and approached her to discuss how they could help N.G. have a better year. She testified that she told Ms. Hansen, "I want to make sure that this year we do put N.G. in a situation where she gets the kind of one-on-one help that she needs." R. 649. Ms. Correa then testified, "That woman looked at me like she didn't know me from Adam. She looked at me like she didn't know who I was or what I was talking about." Id. Ms. Hansen then indicated that she was too busy to meet with Ms. Correa until the third week of school. At that point, Ms. Correa testified that she said "well, you want her to commit suicide at the beginning of the year instead of the end so that maybe we could do something?" Id. at 650. At that point, Ms. Correa testified that she decided she could not "put [N.G.] back in this situation" and she decided to try and find a private school placement for her. Id.

After the 2002-2003 school year ended, N.G.'s parents consulted Dr. Robbins about the type of school setting that might be better for N.G. R. 823. Dr. Robbins indicated that N.G. would benefit from small classes, a highly structured environment, and one-on-one attention from supportive teachers. Dr. Robbins also indicated that N.G. would benefit from a "safe environment" to which she could retreat if she became overwhelmed and upset in class. Id. at 338. Ms. Correa testified that the doctors at Children's Hospital also recommended that in light of N.G.'s depressive disorder, "she needed small classes... to be able to connect with the teacher, ... the ability to ask for help and get it. She needed a support system." Id. at 648.

In response to these recommendations and because of their belief that no other options were available through DCPS, id., N.G.'s parents enrolled her at the Saint James School in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the 2003-2004 school year. Saint James is a highly structured boarding school, with an average class size of 12 students and a total student body of 220. R. 354. The school offers a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, family-style meals, mandatory athletics and study hall, and close monitoring of nearly all aspects of each student's life. Id. at 356. Saint James admitted N.G. with knowledge of her ADHD, believing its small size, structure, attentive teaching and coaching, and dormitory supervision would be good for her. Id. at 359. The headmaster testified in her affidavit that Saint James has accommodated ADHD students in the past. Id.

N.G. was admitted on the condition that she repeat the tenth grade because her academic performance at Wilson had been so poor. Id. at 654. Ms. Correa observed improvement in N.G. during her time at Saint James, testifying that she was excited about learning again, she started to believe in herself and her grades improved. R. 655. While at Saint James, N.G. received psychological support with a therapist who came to the school one day each week. She also continued to see her psychiatrist for medication therapy and saw Dr. Robbins for additional counseling when she came home. R. 679.

While N.G. made improvements at St. James, her parents ultimately determined that the school was too religious and not sufficiently diverse. R. 658 (Testimony of Ms. Correa expressing concern that N.G. was one of only three Hispanic students at the school). Accordingly, in 2004, they enrolled N.G. at the Buxton School in Williamstown, Massachusetts, for eleventh grade. Buxton is a very small boarding school, and enrolls only 90 students total for grades nine through 12. R. 381. The average class has only six to eight students. According to the affidavit of a Buxton teacher,

The typical Buxton student is very bright and does well in an environment that affords a lot of personal contact with adults to foment self-esteem, trust, and basic growth. This student may not be doing well in a large, impersonal environment, but has the potential for great success in a community that affords personal rights along with imposing personal responsibility.

R. 381. Dr. Robbins approved of Buxton because it was even smaller than Saint James and was more responsive to the individual differences in the way people learn. R. 825-826. While N.G. attended Buxton, she continued to receive psychological counseling from a therapist who works with the school but is not on staff. R. 675. She also continued to take medication for depression and ADHD. Id. at 306.

On November 23, 2004, Ms. Correa went to Wilson to register N.G. as a non-attending student and to inquire about special education services. After filling out the registration forms, Ms. Correa asked for the forms necessary to request special education services. Ms. Correa was first told that Wilson did not have any such forms. R. 253. When Ms. Correa asked to speak to someone else, she was referred to Mr. Williams, the special education coordinator, who told Ms. Correa that a parent cannot request special education services, but rather the referral had to be made by a teacher. Id. Ms. Correa then called the D.C. Education Office to clarify this matter and was instructed by that office to call the same Mr. Williams who had turned her away at Wilson. Id. Ms. Correa called Mr. Williams again on November 29, 2004 but he did not return her call.

Following this incident, Plaintiffs' retained their current counsel. Plaintiffs' counsel sent a letter to Wilson describing the above interaction and requesting that the school "immediately initiate all appropriate procedures to evaluate N.G.'s eligibility for special education and related services, as well as any additional or different procedures which may be required in furtherance of the nearly two-year-old request for a 504 plan." Plaintiffs' counsel also directed Ms. Correa to go to the Central Assessment Referral and Evaluations ("C.A.R.E") Center in order to request special education services for N.G. Until that point, Ms. Correa testified that she was unaware of the Center's existence or of any of the services it provides, such as testing students to identify problems or placing students with special needs in separate schools. R. 666. Ms. Correa signed the necessary forms at the C.A.R.E. Center on December 27, 2004 to begin the evaluation process.

DCPS subsequently performed a comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation, which included a battery of tests that N.G. took while home from Buxton over the holidays. Id. at 667. Dr. Denise White-Jennings, a DCPS psychologist, also completed a clinical psychological consultation, which consisted of reviewing records and forms completed by N.G.'s parents and teachers. Pl.s' Mot. at 18. Dr. White-Jennings never met N.G. Her May 11, 2005 report included the following "diagnostic impressions."

N.G. has a history of depression with past suicide attempts and hospitalization. She has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and prescribed Lexapro and Keflex according to Childrens' Hospital records from her 2003 hospitalization. According to parent report, N.G. has also been diagnosed with ADHD although records were not made available indicating this diagnosis. Current parent and teacher rating scales are suggestive of ADHD symtomology however symptoms of restlessness, inattention, distractibility can also be associated with depression. N.G. is reported to be in ongoing psychotherapeutic treatment. Current reports have been requested, but have not been provided. Diagnosis is deferred pending treatment/progress notes from her therapist.

R. 295.

DCPS convened a Multidisciplinary Team ("MDT") meeting on May 16, 2005 at which it determined that N.G. was not eligible for special education. The decision was based only upon the psychoeducational evaluation and clinical psychological consultation reports prepared by DCPS along with the quarterly grade reports and teacher rating forms submitted by N.G.'s teachers at Buxton. R. 298, 736. The MDT did not consider medical records submitted by N.G.'s parents. Id. at 736. Those records included a 2003 diagnosis of ADHD and mood disorder from Dr. Lawrence Brain, the child psychiatrist who treated N.G. from May 2003 to November 2003, and a medications report from Dr. Silver, the child psychiatrist who treated N.G. from March 2004 through December 2004. Though it appears from the record that Plaintiffs' counsel mailed these reports to DCPS on April 25, 2005, see R. 304, the MDT notes represent that DCPS did not receive them until the date of the MDT and therefore the team refused to consider them. Id. at 297-98. The MDT also did not consider N.G.'s academic performance at Wilson nor her past academic history even though N.G.'s parents urged its consideration. Pl.'s Mot. at 14; R. 709, 714. The MDT determined that based upon the "information presented," N.G.'s academic performance was commensurate with her educational potential and therefore she was ineligible for special education.

R. 301, 309.

On May 24, 2005, Plaintiffs requested through counsel that the MDT meeting be reconvened because the MDT did not fully consider all factors relevant to the determination of the presence or absence of a disability. R. 307. In their letter to Ms. Gloria Everett, the social worker in charge of the MDT, Plaintiffs complained that

Although N.G. attended District of Columbia public schools from kindergarten through the tenth grade, DCPS brought none of her school records to the MDT meeting. Consequently, the DCPS team members were unable to assess N.G.'s current educational status and success in her current placement in context, specifically in comparison with the difficulties she experienced while enrolled in large classes and chaotic setting of a general education high school in which she received no emotional support.

R. 308. Furthermore, Plaintiffs argued that the MDT team should have considered the medical reports from Dr. Brain and Dr. Silver that were first mailed to DCPS and also ...


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