Sioux Falls School Dist. v. Koupal, No. 18670

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtKONENKAMP; MILLER, C.J., SABERS and AMUNDSON, JJ., and CALDWELL; CALDWELL, Circuit Judge, sitting for WUEST
Citation526 N.W.2d 248,97 Ed.LawRep. 486
Parties97 Ed. Law Rep. 486 SIOUX FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Renee KOUPAL, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 18670
Decision Date25 January 1995

Page 248

526 N.W.2d 248
97 Ed. Law Rep. 486
SIOUX FALLS SCHOOL DISTRICT, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
Renee KOUPAL, Defendant and Appellant.
No. 18670.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Argued Sept. 12, 1994.
Decided Dec. 21, 1994.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 25, 1995.

Michael L. Luce of Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, Sioux Falls, for plaintiff and appellee.

John A. Hamilton of SD Advocacy Services, Pierre, Mark Partin of Advocacy, Inc., Austin, TX, for defendant and appellant.

KONENKAMP, Justice.

An autistic child's mother appeals the circuit court's judgment rejecting her challenge of a school district's refusal to include specific teacher training in her child's education plan. We affirm.

Six-year-old Brett Koupal suffers from severe autism. He receives special education from the Sioux Falls School District (School District), which includes instruction through the TEACCH method, a program developed at the University of North Carolina specifically designed for autistic children. TEACCH stands for "Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication, handicapped CHildren." When Brett's IEP (Individualized Education Program) was

Page 250

prepared in both 1991 and 1992, Brett's mother, Renee Koupal, attached to the IEPs several typed pages designated as "Other Related Services" which included the following statement:

Due to the complex nature of Autism, and the extensive expertise that is needed to appropriately teach these children, it is of critical importance that those who are working with Brett receive sufficient autism-specific training. Therefore, Brett's classroom teacher will have received, at the very least, the five-day TEACCH training course prior to working with him.

The School District took no issue with these additions.

Dr. Tom Stanage, director of the autism program at the University of South Dakota, conducts South Dakota's only five-day TEACCH course. Attendance is limited to twenty-five people and the course is held only twice a year: once in Rapid City and once in Sioux Falls, both sessions in June. Dr. Stanage believes a teacher could become sufficiently trained to use the TEACCH system by means other than the five-day workshop, though such alternatives are less preferred.

Both the School District and the mother agree that Brett's teachers have always been competent in the TEACCH method. The mother's concerns were aroused, however, when in May of 1992 she learned that Brett's summer teacher had not taken the five-day TEACCH course. The mother considered the course mandatory for Brett's teachers, in accord with her attachment to the IEP. She complained to Karen Roth, the School District's Director of Exceptional Children's Services. Although Roth later classified the mother's attached pages as non-binding "suggestions" which the District would attempt to follow, the School District responded by arranging for the teacher, Sandy Ragels, to attend the course. She could only attend the class four of the five days, due to conflicts in her schedule. To make up for the missed training day, the School District paid two special education teachers, trained and experienced in the TEACCH method, to work with Ragels for ten hours.

When School District officials met with Brett's mother on December 11, 1992 to review his IEP, the School District announced its intent to exclude from Brett's IEP language specifically requiring the five-day TEACCH course for his teachers. The School District assured the mother that Brett will continue TEACCH method instruction, but the mother feared that teachers trained with anything less than the full five-day TEACCH course would cause Brett to regress. The mother initiated a due process hearing pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1)(E).

A hearing examiner heard evidence on March 26, 1993 and entered findings of fact and conclusions of law, deciding that teacher training could be included in an IEP and that it was inappropriate for the School District to remove the five-day course requirement from Brett's current IEP. The School District appealed, and, on independent review, the circuit court reversed. The mother raises the following issues on appeal:

I. Did the circuit court err in holding that specific teacher training could not be mandated in Brett's IEP?

II. Did the trial court err in finding immaterial the teacher training language in Brett's two previous IEPs?

III. Is the mother entitled to attorney's fees?

ANALYSIS

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education of the Handicapped Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., provides federal funding to assist state and local agencies in educating disabled children. Brett clearly qualifies under the Act: Autistic disorder is a lifelong neurologically-based developmental disability characterized by communication dysfunction and other profound impairments. IDEA requires "that all children with disabilities have available to them ... a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs, to assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents or guardians are protected...." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c). The United States Supreme

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Court defined "free appropriate public education" in Hendrick Hudson, Dist. Bd. of Ed. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 200-01, 102 S.Ct. 3034, 3048, 73 L.Ed.2d 690 (1982):

Implicit in the congressional purpose of providing access to a "free appropriate public education" is the requirement that the education to which access is provided be sufficient to confer some educational benefit upon the handicapped child.... We therefore conclude that the "basic floor of opportunity" provided by the Act consists of access to specialized instruction and related services which are individually designed to provide educational benefit to the handicapped child.

A disabled child's unique education needs must be tailored by means of an IEP. 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c). An IEP is a written statement for each disabled child which details the child's...

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3 practice notes
  • State v. Fifteen Impounded Cats, No. 25408.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 23 Junio 2010
    ...595, 597)) (additional citation omitted). See Goetz, 2001 SD 138, ¶ 24, 636 N.W.2d at 682 (citing Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248, 252 (S.D.1994); State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575, 577 (1985)) (additional citation omitted). The meaning of the phrase "exigent circumstances" m......
  • Opperman v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., No. 19856
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 27 Marzo 1997
    ...(5thed 1979). In this case, warehousing is not a general term following more specific terms. See, e.g., Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248 (S.D.1994) (applied specific terms to limit definition of general term "other supportive services"); State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575 (S.D.......
  • Goetz v. State, No. 21297.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 14 Noviembre 2001
    ...words will be construed as applying only to things of the same general kind as those enumerated." Sioux Falls School District v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248, 252 (S.D.1994); See also Wendell v. SD Dept. of Transportation, 1998 SD 130, ¶ 7, 587 N.W.2d 595, 597; State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575, 57......
3 cases
  • State v. Fifteen Impounded Cats, No. 25408.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 23 Junio 2010
    ...595, 597)) (additional citation omitted). See Goetz, 2001 SD 138, ¶ 24, 636 N.W.2d at 682 (citing Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248, 252 (S.D.1994); State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575, 577 (1985)) (additional citation omitted). The meaning of the phrase "exigent circumstances" m......
  • Opperman v. Heritage Mut. Ins. Co., No. 19856
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 27 Marzo 1997
    ...(5thed 1979). In this case, warehousing is not a general term following more specific terms. See, e.g., Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248 (S.D.1994) (applied specific terms to limit definition of general term "other supportive services"); State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575 (S.D.......
  • Goetz v. State, No. 21297.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • 14 Noviembre 2001
    ...words will be construed as applying only to things of the same general kind as those enumerated." Sioux Falls School District v. Koupal, 526 N.W.2d 248, 252 (S.D.1994); See also Wendell v. SD Dept. of Transportation, 1998 SD 130, ¶ 7, 587 N.W.2d 595, 597; State v. Galati, 365 N.W.2d 575, 57......

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