Federal Court Recognizes Need for After School Programming

Last Month, United States District Court Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto affirmed Judge Robert M. Levy’s Report and Recommendation in our case, T.Y. v. New York City Department of Education, awarding T.Y.’s parents reimbursement relief for T.Y.’s tuition at the Rebecca School and T.Y.’s after-school speech therapy, provision of a 1:1 paraprofessional and transportation-related costs and expenses.

Judge Levy’s Report and Recommendation found that the DOE had failed to consider documents or parent input addressing T.Y.’s need for a relationship-based instructional model. At the hearing, T.Y.’s mother testified that, at the IEP meeting, she had raised concerns regarding teaching methods to address T.Y.’s individual needs at the IEP meeting, inquiring whether there were any available programs that utilized DIR. However, the DOE’s representative stated that teaching methodology would not even be discussed at the IEP meeting.

The Court found that the IHO thoroughly considered the evidence as to this issue, but the SRO had not done so. Ultimately, the Court held that the IEP did not sufficiently address T.Y.’s unique needs. Accordingly, the court deferred to the IHO’s thoughtful and well-reasoned determination that the DOE did not consider the DIR/Floortime methodology or address the student’s demonstrable need for a relationship based program. 

The Court further found that the DOE’s failure to consider the need for after school speech and language therapy further compounded the DOE’s failure. At the time of the IEP meeting, T.Y. was receiving seven weekly hours of speech and language therapy. A report from T.Y.’s afterschool speech therapist stated that T.Y. requires 5 hourly sessions of speech-language therapy per week. T.Y.’s mother sent that report to the DOE before the IEP meeting and also brought a copy of the report with her to the meeting, but the DOE representative did not want to read it, placed it in the middle of the table, and made no reference to it during the IEP meeting.

At the hearing, T.Y.’s speech therapist provided testimony as to why T.Y. required supplemental after-school speech therapy and that T.Y. would regress if he did not continue to receive supplemental speech services. The district court found that the SRO’s reasoning on this point was not persuasive and deferred to the IHO’s well-reasoned determination that additional speech-language therapy was necessary for T.Y. to make progress in his educational program.

The T.Y. case has concluded but for the parents’ motion for attorneys’ fees and other costs.