United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MR. AND MRS.
RULING ON PARTIES' CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
Charles S. Haight, Jr. Senior United States District Judge
Mr. and Mrs. A (together, "Parents"), parents of
Z.A. ("the "Student"), bring this action
against Defendant Greenwich Board of Education ("the
Board"). Parents bring suit pursuant to the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§
1400-1482 ("IDEA"), to appeal a decision and order
(the "Order") of an independent hearing officer
(the "IHO") of the State of Connecticut's
Department of Education. Specifically, Parents filed suit
under § 1415(i)(2) of the IDEA, which grants the right
to bring a federal civil action to certain parties claiming
to have been aggrieved by the IDEA's dispute resolution
process. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment.
Docs. 25-29, 33. This Ruling resolves both motions.
a fifteen-year old student at the Eagle Hill School
("Eagle Hill") in Greenwich, CT, a special
education facility as determined by the Connecticut State
Department of Education. Z.A. first matriculated at Eagle
Hill for the 2013-14 school year following Parents'
decision to move the family from New York City to Greenwich
in 2013. Z.A. had spent the previous four academic years at
the Summit School ("Summit") in New York City,
which is also a private school designed for students with
special educational needs. Parents' decision to send Z.A.
to Eagle Hill, rather than a public school within the
Greenwich Public School ("GPS") system and under
the jurisdiction of the Defendant Board, is the focus of the
initially became concerned about Z.A.'s abilities while
Z.A. was in preschool. Mrs. A. Tr. (7/24/14) at
Parents retained Dr. Ellen A. Farber to conduct an evaluation
of Z.A. in February 2006, when Z.A. was five and a half years
old. B-5, at 1. Dr. Farber summarized the results:
During that evaluation, [Z.A.] demonstrated average
intellectual abilities with impoverished language. He tired
quickly and became frustrated. On language measures he had
difficulty interpreting spoken sentences when the language
increased in structural complexity and in idea density.
1. In light of these difficulties, Parents decided to send
Z.A. to Manhattan Country School, a private school in New
York City. Dr. Farber conducted further psychological
evaluation of Z.A. in December 2007 and March 2008,
specifically diagnosing Z.A. with "mixed
receptive-expressive language disorder, " and
determining that he "meets criteria for a diagnosis of
learning disability in the areas of processing speed,
graphomotor coordination, and expressive writing." B-5,
at 7. Dr. Farber further stated that Z.A. "needs to be
in a school for children with language and learning
disabilities." B-5, at 7.
attending the Manhattan Country School Z.A. began to struggle
socially, which concerned Parents enough to enroll Z.A in New
York City public school for second-grade for the 2008-09
school year. Mrs. A. Tr. (7/24/14) at 51. In fact, Parents
removed Z.A. from the Manhattan Country School after a safety
issue arose during Z.A.'s first day of second grade.
Id.; B-6, at 1 ("He left Manhattan [Country
School] abruptly after the first day of his third year there
when his mother, who attended a school picnic with him, saw
how cruelly he was being picked on by the other boys").
However, Parents were unsatisfied with Z.A.'s experience
in New York City public school because Z.A. "just
couldn't get consistency of support." Id.
On the recommendation of Dr. Farber, Parents chose to send
Z.A. to Summit in New York City for third grade during the
2009-10 academic year. Payment for the Summit tuition was
paid for by the New York City Department of Education and the
New York State Education Department in light of their finding
that Z.A. was disabled pursuant to the IDEA and that the New
York City Department of Education "is not able to
provide the special education services recommended for
point in 2010, Z.A. began to visit board certified
psychiatrist Dr. Roger Rahtz, who has since then continuously
and regularly treated Z.A. Dr. Rahtz Tr. (9/4/14) at 6; Mrs.
A. Tr. (7/24/14) at 66-67. Additionally, in August of 2011,
Parents retained the services of Dr. Andrew Morrel to conduct
another psychological evaluation of Z.A. B-6. Ultimately, Dr.
Morrel's summary of Z.A. was as follows:
[Z.A.] is a boy of superior intellectual ability who was only
intermittently able to function at the level of his potential
owing to his uneven attention, motivation and frustration
tolerance[.] His greatest cognitive strengths lie in his
reasoning and his visual spatial problem-solving abilities,
while relevant vulnerabilities were noted in his expressive
language, his graphomotor facility and his
B-6, at 8.
attended Summit for the third through sixth grades, spanning
the academic years of 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13.
Present in the record are two Individual Education Plans
("IEPs") crafted by the New York Committee on
Special Education that were created while Z.A. was at Summit.
One, dated March 6, 2012, was operative for Z.A.'s
sixth-grade year at Summit during 2012-13. The second, dated
May 24, 2013, was to be operative for Z.A.'s
seventh-grade year during 2013-14. These IEPs, fifteen and
seventeen pages respectively, contain detailed information
including, but not limited to, Z.A.'s then present level
of performance and needs, specific annual goals, and
recommended special educational programs and services. B-1;
B-2. The latter consists of: (i) a special education class
with a staffing ratio maximum of 12:1:1.5; (ii)
speech-language therapy twice per week for thirty minutes;
(iii) occupational therapy twice per week for thirty minutes;
(iv) individual occupational therapy once per week for thirty
minutes; and (v) group occupational therapy once per week for
thirty minutes. B-1, at 9-10; B-2, at 11. The May 2013 IEP
also stated that Z.A.'s "[p]rogram setting precludes
participation" in "regular class, extracurricular
and other nonacademic activities." B-2, at 14. It also
stated that Z.A. requires a "specialized school
'12:1, ' because "[Z.A.] requires a highly
specialized program with support services not available in
public school to meet his educational needs." B-2, at
May 2013 IEP, created for implementation during the following
2013-14 school year, would not go into effect at Summit
because at this time Parents were planning to move the family
from New York City to Greenwich. Parents decided to move for
several reasons, one related to the struggles and stresses
faced by Z.A. in New York City generally and at Summit
specifically, but also due to adverse changes in Mr. A.'s
had been planning to move to Greenwich for some time, and had
owned a house in the town since 2002. Mrs. A. Tr. (10/21/14)
at 31. One reason Parents decided on Greenwich was the
quality of the school system. Id. At some point in
2012, Mrs. A. toured Greenwich's Central Middle School
("CMS"), the school which Z.A. would have attended
if he were to attend a school under the Board's
jurisdiction. Id. at 31-2. Mrs. A testified that she
toured CMS with the intention that Z.A. would eventually
attend school there. Id. Around this time, however,
Parents were also considering Eagle Hill, which was
recommended to them by Dr. Morrel when Z.A. was initially
struggling at Summit. Mrs. A. Tr. (7/24/14) at 52. At some
point in 2012, Mrs. A. even called Eagle Hill, but never
followed up. Id. at 52-53.
Mr. A.'s financial setback occurred near the end of that
year, 2012-or, as testified to by Mrs. A., once "all
hell broke loose"-Parents began to consider moving in
earnest, and Eagle Hill came up again. Id. at 53. In
February of 2013, Z.A. and Mrs. A. took a tour of Eagle Hill,
with Z.A. taking part in an interview the same day. Shortly
thereafter,  Z.A. was accepted by Eagle Hill for the
2013-14 school year. Mrs. A. Tr. (10/21/14) at 36. On March
12, 2013, Parents paid a $6, 075 deposit to Eagle Hill,
securing Z.A.'s enrollment at the school for the 2013-14
academic year. The contract signed by Mrs. A. stated that she
would be required to pay the entire year's tuition of
$60, 750 if she were to withdraw Z.A. after June 1, 2013.
Mrs. A. testified that she was willing to risk forfeiting
that entire payment if Z.A. were not to attend Eagle
Hill. Id. at 41.
28, 2013, Z.A. had his first of four evaluation sessions with
Dr. Timothy Heitzman, a pediatric neuropsychologist at the
Southfield Center for Development in Darien, CT. B-7. One of
the principal reasons that Parents obtained the services of
Dr. Heitzman was to "help them to find an appropriate
school placement for [Z.A.]." B-7, at 1. Z.A. met again
with Dr. Heitzman on June 4, June 5, and June 7, 2013.
Ultimately, Dr. Heitzman issued a Neuropsychological
Evaluation of Z.A., dated August 14, 2013. B-7.
the first week of June 2013, Parents closed on their new
house and physically relocated to Greenwich. Parents
thereafter registered Z.A. at CMS on June 7, 2013. Parents
did so even though, as discussed, Z.A. was at the time
enrolled at Eagle Hill and the June 1, 2013 date had passed
by which they were contractually obligated to pay Eagle Hill
the entire 2013-14 academic year's $60, 750 tuition. Also
on June 7, 2013, Mrs. A. took a short tour of CMS, led by CMS
guidance counselor Colleen Alfano. Mrs. A. did not bring Z.A.
on this visit to CMS. Z.A. was in school that day at Summit,
where he was set to finish the 2012-13 academic year. Mrs. A.
Tr. (10/12/14) at 43.Mrs. A. did not have a positive reaction to
what she saw on the tour of CMS. She testified that although
"it looked like a nice school, . . . it was not going to
be appropriate for [Z.A.]." Mrs. A. Tr. (7/24/14) at 58.
She specifically identified "the bustling in the
hallways, the sounds, the sensory experience, " as well
as "[m]ultiple people in the classrooms, large class
sizes, lots of voices, the acoustics, the smells."
Id. at 58; Mrs. A. Tr. (10/21/14) at 8.
point after June 7, 2013, Parents requested that the
Defendant Board convene a Placement and Planning Team
("PPT") to create an IEP for Z.A. Prior to the PPT
meeting, Parents provided to the Board the Summit New York
IEPs from March 6, 2012 and May 24, 2013, as well as the 2008
report of Dr. Farber and the 2011 report of Dr. Morrel.
Parents did not inform the Board that they had already
enrolled Z.A. at Eagle Hill, or that they were even
considering a private placement for Z.A. Parents also did not
inform the Board that Z.A. had just a few weeks prior spent
four sessions with Dr. Heitzman or that Dr. Heitzman would
soon be issuing a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluative
report. This is despite the fact that the express purpose of
that report was to assist with finding a proper school
placement for Z.A.
Board convened the PPT meeting on June 26, 2013. Present at
the meeting were: (i) Assistant Principal Dr. Jo Frame, the
administrator of the PPT; (ii) special education teacher
Carolyn Hoette; (iii) general education teacher Kevin Krois;
(iv) school psychologist Dr. Scott McCarthy; (v)
speech/language pathologist Julie Webster; (vi) guidance
counselor Colleen Alfano; and (vii) Mrs. A. Sherri Bordoff,
the Clinical Director at Summit, also participated by
determined that Z.A. was disabled, specifically, that he
suffered from an "Emotional Disturbance." B-3, at
2. The PPT therefore determined that Z.A. was
"[e]ligible as a student in need of Special Education,
" and that "[t]he child is evaluated as having a
disability, and needs special education and related
services." B-3, at 2. However, the PPT did not create an
IEP for Z.A. Rather, "[t]he team agreed to a diagnostic
placement, " pursuant to which Z.A. would be enrolled at
CMS and evaluated during the beginning of the school year,
prior to the school creating and implementing an IEP. B-3, at
2. The PPT determined the goals of the diagnostic placement
to be three-fold: (i) "gather current level of academic,
cognitive behavior need"; (ii) "provide education
in [least restrictive environment] available to best suit
[Z.A.]'s needs"; and (iii) "draft a new IEP for
the 2013-2014 school year." B-3, at 4. The specific
services to be provided during the diagnostic placement were
to be: (i) daily 45 minute collaborative group meetings with
a special education academic monitor, Carolyn Hoette; (ii)
weekly 45 minute meetings with Julie Webster, CMS's
speech/language pathologist; and (iii) weekly 45 minute
counseling meetings with school psychologist Dr. Scott
McCarthy. A PPT was to be convened every two weeks between
the start of the school year and October 8, 2013 to address
Z.A.'s progress through the diagnostic placement. The
diagnostic placement made no reference to Z.A.'s Summit
IEP, nor the contents thereof.
testified that the purpose of the diagnostic placement in the
mainstream setting accompanied with bi-weekly meetings was so
that the school could "repeatedly review whether or not
[Z.A.] was in the least restrictive environment and his needs
were being met." Alfano Tr. (9/11/14) at 62. She also
testified that the diagnostic placement is
a very intentional period of data collection and sharing and
reviewing of the student's progress and placement and
support services in order to collaboratively determine
whether or not the student is in an appropriate placement.
Id. at 66. The purpose of collecting that data was
to form a baseline from which the PPT could ultimately create
an IEP. Hoette Tr. (10/17/14) at 132-33.
school psychologist and PPT member Dr. Scott McCarthy
testified why he thought that a diagnostic placement was most
appropriate for Z.A.:
I think the biggest questions were regarding behavioral
responses to things. How would [Z.A.] do in a mainstream
setting, with a mainstream teacher and a collaborative
teacher. Would he be able to access the academic curriculum
within that setting, and what level of support would he
Dr. McCarthy Tr. (10/27/14) at 71; see Id. at 15
("our focus was on providing the services within Central
Middle School"). Dr. McCarthy also stated: "the
purpose of a diagnostic placement was to determine whether
the goals that had been developed in that May [Summit] IEP
could be accessed . . . with the services that we were
providing." Dr. McCarthy Tr. (10/21/14) at 109. Alfano
testified that a motivation for the diagnostic placement at
CMS was that "Ms. [A] expressed that [Z.A.] wanted to be
in typical mainstream classes and wanted to not feel
different and separate. And we considered that." Alfano
Tr. (9/11/14) at 67; see also Dr. McCarthy Tr.
(10/27/14) at 15 ("the people who knew him best were
saying that a mainstream setting was going to be the most
appropriate for him"); but see Dr.
Rahtz Tr. (9/4/14) at 33 ("I believe that the
possibility of [Z.A.] being in a mainstream setting [in June
2013] would have significant disadvantages").
addition to the goal of the diagnostic placement-to gain data
on how Z.A. would perform during the regular-year mainstream
program-PPT members made an offer at the PPT meeting to visit
Z.A. over the summer, either at home or at Z.A.'s summer
camp. The parties describe Mrs. A.'s
response to these offers in contrasting fashions. Dr.
McCarthy testified that Mrs. A. "declined" this
offer. Dr. McCarthy Tr. (10/21/14) at 111. Hoette testified
that she did not "know exactly . . . why we didn't
go to his summer camp." Hoette Tr. (10/27/14) at 87.
However, at the due process hearing, Parents' counsel
played a recording of the PPT meeting in which Mrs. A. stated
"I love the idea, " but that she had to "ask
[Z.A.'s] psychiatrist" first. Dr. McCarthy Tr.
(10/27/14) at 11. Nothing in the record shows that either
party followed up on the Board's request to observe Z.A.
over the summer. The IHO characterized this exchange as Mrs.
A. providing a "noncommittal response to the school
psychologist and special education teacher's request to
observe the Student over the summer." Doc. 29-1, at
did not sign the consent form as to the diagnostic placement,
stating that she wanted to take it home and discuss it with
Mr. A. first. Doc. 27 ¶ 33; Alfano Tr. (9/11/14) at 50.
However, Mrs. A did sign an authorization form allowing GPS
to obtain information from Dr. Rahtz. After Mr. and Mrs. A.
subsequently discussed the PPT's proposed diagnostic
placement, they became convinced it was not an appropriate
way forward for Z.A. Mrs. A testified that "it seemed
like we would be starting from scratch, as opposed to
continuing support off of the Summit experience, " and
that "what was being proposed was more of a trial and
error let's get to know him, and I think that's well
meaning, and I understand it, but I didn't think it was
appropriate for [Z.A.] in light of where he was." Mrs.
A. Tr. (10/8/14) at 95-96. On June 30, 2016, Mrs. A. e-mailed
Dr. Frame the following:
My husband and I are very concerned that a diagnostic
placement, in particular, the one identified in the document
you provided to us at the PPT meeting is not an appropriate
placement for [Z.A.]. [Z.A.] cannot enter Greenwich Public
Schools in the fall without an appropriate program in place.
As you know from the information we and The Summit School
provided at the PPT meeting, [Z.A.] has been in a 12:1
specialized out of district placement for the last several
years. Even in such a restrictive placement, he has struggled
to make educational progress.
B-9, at 2.
10, 2013, Dr. Frame responded to Mrs. A.'s June 30
e-mail-after first contacting the GPS special education
department-and stated that the Board "would be
happy to conduct another PPT meeting to try to address your
concerns. Please call the school to schedule a meeting."
B-9, at 3. Mrs. A. responded by e-mail the following day,
July 11, 2013, stating as follows:
Given that [Z.A.] had such a difficult year, we decided to
have him evaluated again. Dr. Tim Heitzman of the Southfield
Center in Darien is working on the evaluation and I'd
like him to attend the PPT meeting. Dr. Heitzman is currently
on vacation but I think he will be back in another week and
should have availability late July so I'll be trying to
coordinate around that timing.
B-9, at 3. This is the first time that Parents notified
anyone at GPS that they were obtaining an evaluation from Dr.
Heitzman. This is despite the fact that Dr. Heitzman had
already met with Z.A. four times, with the ultimate meeting
having taken place more than a month prior to Mrs. A.'s
July 11 e-mail.
point between Mrs. A.'s July 11, 2013 e-mail and August
1, 2013, CMS Assistant Principal Mabee learned that Z.A. was
enrolled at Eagle Hill for the upcoming school year. Mabee
learned this not through Parents, but when Eagle Hill
contacted CMS about arranging transportation for Z.A. to
Eagle Hill for the 2013-14 academic year. On an August 1,
2013 telephone call, Mabee informed Parents that she learned
Z.A. had been enrolled at Eagle Hill. B-12. It was
Parents' unrebutted understanding that, during that call,
GPS, through Mabee, expressed its intent not to schedule a
second PPT in light of Z.A.'s Eagle Hill enrollment.
letter dated August 9, 2013, Parents gave notice to the Board
that they were "privately placing [Z.A.] at Eagle Hill
School, " and that they "will be seeking tuition
reimbursement and related expenses from the Greenwich School
Board." B-10. Parents' letter reiterated the
objections they raised in their July 11, 2013 e-mail as to
the diagnostic placement that arose from the June 26, 2013
PPT. The letter makes no reference to the Board's offer
to conduct a subsequent PPT. Nor does it update the Board on
the status of the Heitzman evaluation-the pending nature of
which Parents relied on to delay the scheduling of a second
PPT-which Mrs. A. had indicated would be prepared by the end
August 16, 2013, Parents transmitted via e-mail the completed
Heitzman report to Dr. Frame. B-12. The e-mail also
indicated that Parents were under the impression that the
Board was not planning on holding a second PPT in light of
Z.A.'s enrollment at Eagle Hill. B-12. Parents again
reiterated their view that the diagnostic placement offered
at the June 26, 2013 PPT was inappropriate, and that "we
needed to make certain that [Z.A.] had an appropriate
educational placement for the start of the 2013-2014 school
year." B-12. The e-mail concludes by stating that
"[i]f GPS had offered an appropriate program, we would
have gladly considered it." B-12.
Board responded to the Parents' August 9, 2013 letter on
August 19, 2013. B-11. The Board expressed the school's
desire to conduct another PPT and told Parents to contact the
school regarding its scheduling. The letter also provided
details as to how Z.A. could formally withdraw from CMS. On
August 27, 2013, Parents contacted GPS indicating their
desire to schedule a follow-up PPT. P-8. August 27, 2013 was
also the first day of school at CMS. HO-2 ¶ 21.
second PPT was convened on September 17, 2013, after Z.A. had
begun classes at Eagle Hill. Present at this PPT were: (i)
Mabee, the PPT administrator; (ii) regular education teacher
Dr. Frame; (iii) special education teacher Hoette; (iv)
school psychologist Dr. McCarthy; (v) speech/language
pathologist Webster; (vi) program coordinator Jeffrey Libby;
and (vii) Mrs. A. Z.A.'s psychologist, Dr. Rahtz,
participated by telephone. In light of the additional
findings in the Heitzman report, the PPT agreed that
additional services were warranted beyond those called for in
the first PPT. See Dr. McCarthy Tr. (10/21/14) at
116 ("this 2013 report was very, very different and
suggested that [Z.A.] needed a small instruction and highly
supported setting"). However, like the first PPT, this
PPT also did not culminate in an IEP, but again in a
diagnostic placement. This was despite Dr. Rahtz's
statement at the meeting that a diagnostic placement was not
appropriate for Z.A. Dr. Rahtz Tr. (9/4/14) at 48-49
("the placement even for a relatively short time . . .
in a mainstream setting would be deleterious to [Z.A.]'s
self-esteem"). Although the PPT again did not
incorporate Z.A.'s Summit IEP, it did dictate that
"[t]he team will implement the Summit School IEP goals,
5/24/2013, during the Diagnostic Placement." B-4, at 2.
This diagnostic placement would be similar in nature to the
one called for during the first IEP, with the addition of:
(i) a daily check-in service for Z.A.; (ii) paraprofessional
support; (iii) a once weekly social skills group; (iv) a once
weekly small group speech session; (v) twice weekly
occupational therapy; and (vi) a BCBA consultation during the
diagnostic placement. Like the initially offered diagnostic
placement, Z.A. would receive his general educational
services as part of CMS's "mainstream"
received the diagnostic placement plan emanating from the
second PPT on September 28, 2013. On October 3, 2013, they
wrote as follows in response:
My husband and I are confused as to why the PPT didn't
offer this placement back in June since it is merely a
transfer of the services set forth in the Summit IEP we
provided to the PPT at the June meeting. Also, a Summit
representative attended the June PPT by telephone to provide
additional information. There is much more to his
individualized education program and his unique educational
needs than service hours.
We are rejecting the Diagnostic Placement Plan because it is
not appropriate for Zachary.
P-11. Mrs. A. testified as to the deficiencies she saw in the
diagnostic placement, such as too large of a class size,
insufficient student-to-teacher ratio, lack of structure
throughout the entire day, including lunch, the lack of
appropriate emotional support from properly trained
individuals, as well as the lack of having one point person
formally assigned to Z.A. Mrs. A. Tr. (10/8/14) at 108-11,
(10/21/14) at 6-8.
2, 2014, Parents petitioned for a due process hearing to
challenge the Board's diagnostic placement approach with
respect to Z.A. After a failed attempt at mediation, the
parties scheduled a hearing in front of the IHO. The hearing
extended over seven days, on July 24, September 4, September
11, October 8, October 14, October 27, and November 24, 2014.
Testifying at the hearing were: (i) Mrs. A; (ii) Dr. Rahtz;
(iii) Rosenberg; (iv) Alfano; (v) Dr. McCarthy; (vi) Hoette;
(vii) Mabee; and (viii) Dr. Frame. The issues for resolution
were: (i) "Did the Board offer an appropriate program to
Student by requesting a Diagnostic Placement?"; (ii) Did
the Board have sufficient information to develop an [IEP] for
Student?"; (iii) "Is Eagle Hill School an
appropriate placement for Student?"; and (iv) "If
Eagle Hill is an appropriate placement for Student, should
the Parents be reimbursed for the costs of tuition and
education related expenses?" The parties submitted
post-hearing briefing on December 10, 2014.
December 30, 2014, the IHO issued her decision, ruling in
favor of the Board. In summary, the IHO determined that: (i)
the diagnostic placement was appropriate; (ii) the Board
lacked sufficient information to develop an IEP for Z.A. in
the mainstream setting; and (iii) in light of those findings,
it was unnecessary to address the issues as to Eagle Hill.
Parents filed the instant action challenging the IHO's
determination on February 13, 2015.
Standard of Review
appeals are generally resolved in full via cross-motions for
summary judgment brought pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. However,
Though the parties in an IDEA action may call the procedure
'a motion for summary judgment, ' the procedure is in
substance an appeal from an administrative determination, not
a summary judgment motion. . . . Basing its decision on the
preponderance of the evidence, the court is required to grant
such relief as the court determines is appropriate.
M.H. v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Educ., 685 F.3d 217, 226
(2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotations, citations, and
alterations omitted). The "preponderance of the
evidence" standard comes directly from the IDEA itself.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(c)(2) ("basing its decision on the
preponderance of the evidence, [the district court] shall
grant such relief as the court determines is
appropriate"). Accordingly, "'a motion for
summary judgment in an IDEA case often triggers more than an
inquiry into possible disputed issues of fact. Rather, the
motion serves a pragmatic procedural mechanism for reviewing
a state's compliance with the procedures set forth in
[the] IDEA.'" Id. at 225-26 (quoting
Lillbask ex rel. Mauclaire v. State of Conn. Dep't of
Educ., 397 F.3d 77, 83 n.3 (2d Cir. 2005)).
in determining whether a state agency's decision as to a
local education agency's compliance with the IDEA is
supported by a preponderance of the evidence, the court
should keep in mind that
'[t]he role of the federal courts in reviewing state
educational decisions under the IDEA is circumscribed.'
Gagliardo v. Arlington Cent. Sch. Dist., 489 F.3d
105, 112-13 (2d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The standard of review 'requires a more
critical appraisal of the agency determination than
clear-error review but nevertheless falls well short of
complete de novo review.' M.H. v. N.Y.C.
Dep't of Educ., 685 F.3d 217, 244 (2d Cir. 2012)
(internal quotation marks, ellipses, and ...