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BOOK: 15 
MONTH-YEAR: March - 1998
IN RE: In re Stefan S.
APPELLANT: John & Joan S.
APPELLEE: Ankeny Community School District/AEA 11
KEYWORDS: Special Education
DETAILS: The critical issues in this proceeding were the appropriateness of the program offered by the ACSD; the cost of competing program options; the least restrictive environment in which an appropriate program could be provided; and implementation of the Extended Year provisions. Stefan is an 11 year old student diagnosed in 1997 as pervasive developmental disorder, ADHD, aggressive behaviors, nonverbal learning disability, expressive language disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. He is a high-functioning child with autism who was first diagnosed at the age of 3. The Des Moines District is Stefans resident district; numerous programs have been tried and have failed to produce measureable results. There has always been an IEP; major destruction of property and assaultive behavior toward other students required home-bound schooling which also proved to be unsuccessful.
  Appellants stated several of the incidents were mishandled by school officials. Stefans academic skills according to a 1997 University of Iowa evaluation were in the average to borderline range. He is average in word identification skills, below average in reading comprehension and math, and father below in written language. The evaluation recommended the use of consistent schedules, routines, and advanced warnings of changes in Stefans environment should be used daily; restricted choice situations; and ignoring noncompliant or oppositional behavior with redirection to task. The parents sought extended year special education services during the summer of 1997. That request was initially denied, but Stefan was placed in a summer program at Smouse School. His behavior was described as worsening and far more dangerous than in prior summers.
  At issue was the appropriateness of the special class program offered at Woodward-Granger School District. It severely limited Stefans possible interaction with nondisabled children. Appellants first choice was a program at the neighborhood school, N.W. Elementary School in the ACSD. According to the ACSD officials, there was no other students in the ACSD who need a self-contained, special class that implements autism-specific strategies, with peer contacts, cognitive stimulation and verbally rich environment.
  Appellees contend that they are not obligated to provide aprogram in the neighborhood school or in the ACSD; rather, the program can be offered at another location outside of the district. Federal statute and egulation imply a preference for the neighborhood school, but nothing approaching Appellants position. 34 C.F.R. 300.552. The ALJ found the district met its burden of doing all it reasonable could to provide an appropriate education at the neighborhood school.
  Appellants prevailed on the issue of appropriate program and provision of extended year special education services.  Woodward-Granger was not appropriate. The majority of responsibity for not offering an appropriate program was placed on the Ankeny School District; the responsibility for inadequate provision of an extended year for special education for Stefan fell to both the AEA and District.
OUTCOMES: A new IEP including a guide to Stefans 1998 summer program was to be prepared. The District and AEA were authorized to explore and implement out-of-district placements.