The opinion of the court was delivered by: Feldman, United States Magistrate Judge.
This is an action brought by plaintiff, Beth Corchado, on
behalf of her son, Sadrach Corchado, (Sadrach) pursuant to the
Individual with Disabilities Education Act (the "IDEA"),
20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., seeking review of a denial of educational
benefits. The sole issue before this Court is whether Sadrach, a
fourth grade student attending public school in the City of
Rochester, qualifies for special education benefits under IDEA.
The defendant determined that Sadrach did not qualify for
benefits under IDEA and, on administrative review, an Impartial
Hearing Officer (IHO) and a State Review Officer (SRO) agreed.
For the reasons that follow, I find that Sadrach does qualify for
IDEA benefits and, therefore, direct the defendant to develop and
implement an individualized educational plan (IEP) for Sadrach
pursuant to the IDEA.
The facts, as set forth in a detailed administrative record,
are for the most part undisputed. Sadrach is a ten year old
fourth grader who attends public School # 33 in the City of
Rochester. Born in Puerto Rico after only eight months of
gestation, Sadrach suffers from multiple and complex medical
difficulties. The SRO summarized briefly Sadrach's medical
history in his decision affirming the denial of IDEA benefits:
[Sadrach] was born in Puerto Rico and has reportedly
had a life long seizure disorder, which may have been
the combination of congenital measles and birth
anoxia. A pediatric neurologist who examined the boy
in November, 1994 reported that the child also has an
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with
aggressive tendencies, a psychomotor delay, mild
asthma and learning disabilities with possible mental
retardation. He further reported that the child also
had a tremor in his bilateral upper extremities. The
pediatric neurologist expressed concern that the
medication to control the child's seizure disorder
was having a significant detrimental effect on his
ADHD, and recommended a different combination of
medications. The result of an EEG conducted during
the examination were consistent with a tendency
toward a focal seizure disorder. A second
neurologist, who saw the boy in February, 1996,
opined that he appeared to have a partial complex
seizure disorder with secondary generalization.
In addition to his seizure disorder, tremors, and ADHD, the SRO
also summarized Sadrach's medical history with respect to
observed problems with the child's speech and language
The medical record also confirms that Sadrach's language skills
are complicated by the fact that he speaks with a lisp and
stutters. In addition, Sadrach suffers from auditory
deficiencies. As described in the SRO's decision, Sadrach was
evaluated by a City School District audiologist in early 1996.
"The audiologist indicated that the child had a fluctuating
hearing loss which was expected to cause hearing difficulties in
instructional situations." Although Sadrach completed first grade
in 1996, he periodically needed home and hospital tutoring
"because seizures and asthma prevented him from attending
Sadrach returned to school in September, 1996, to commence
second grade. Due to academic and health related difficulties,
Sadrach repeated the second grade in the 1997-1998 school year.
In March of 1998, while Sadrach was repeating second grade, his
mother completed a special education referral request seeking
special education services for her son. Her request was referred
to, and evaluated by, the school district's "Pupil Personnel
Services Team" (PPST) who found that "Sadrach could be classified
as a student with a `Other Health Impairment,'" thus making him
eligible for special education benefits. The PPST recommendation
was referred to the district's Committee on Special Education
("CSE"). In May, 1998, the CSE rejected the PPST recommendation,
finding that Sadrach had "made progress such that achievement is
described as average for his grade placement" and that his noted
medical problems "are not significantly impacting his overall
Sadrach's mother decided to obtain an independent medical
evaluation from the Genesee Developmental Unit ("GDU") at the
Genesee Hospital. The GDU evaluation team was supervised by Dr.
Miriam Halpern, a developmental pediatrician with the GDU. Dr.
Halpern obtained her undergraduate degree from University of
Michigan and her medical degree from the University of Rochester
Medical School. She completed a pediatric residency at Oakland
Children's Hospital and at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
Dr. Halpern also completed a fellowship in developmental
pediatrics at Strong Memorial and worked for five years as
pediatrician at the Anthony Jordan Health Center, an inner-city
HMO in Rochester.
As case manager for Sadrach, Dr Halpern herself conducted a
neuro-developmental evaluation to determine what medical
conditions Sadrach had. Dr. Halpern then referred Sadrach to
other team members at GDU for specialized testing and evaluation
in the areas of communication and education/academics. Each team
member prepared a comprehensive report documenting their testing
results and evaluative recommendations. After each team member
had evaluated and tested Sadrach, the team again conferenced and
prepared a detailed "Team Evaluative Summary."
Sadrach's performance within this evaluation setting
indicates the need for additional educational support
for him to meet the demands of the third grade
curriculum. He has repeated second grade; however,
skills have not developed to an end of second grade
level. He presents as a youngster who has significant
language needs. . . . It is strongly suggested that
Sadrach be referred to the Committee on Special
Education to be identified as a youngster with
special needs. Given his history of ...