home for approximately a week. There is also the testimony of Barbara Thompson, defendant's learning disabilities consultant teacher, before the Classification Officer. She recognized that S. G. might regress during the times he was not attending the Brooklawn School program, lacking the structure of interaction with other persons. "He would probably become very listless and -- how can I describe it? You know, there just wouldn't be communication. He would miss out". Transcript of May 27, 1982 at page 123. This would not pertain during periods when he was in attendance at the Parsippany Troy-Hills schools, or engaging in school or community-sponsored activity for the handicapped, but inevitably there would be long periods after school or on weekends and during the summer when he would lack the stimulation and incentive to learning provided by the Woods School. His parents, his brother and sisters will undoubtedly take up some of the slack, but the parents work and the other children, who are 20, 19 and 17 years of age, respectively, are either at college or soon will go to college.
3. There was testimony before the Educational Classification Officer by Dr. Rhonda Rapps, a child psychologist, who is an independent consultant retained by plaintiffs. She stated that S. G. needs continuing work on his ability to communicate with signs and that he should be with people who can reinforce these skills and with other children generally. This same witness testified that his education must consist of more than a five or six hour segment of each day. It must be followed through during the rest of his waking hours. This, of course, is true of any child. His or her learning and growth continues during the many hours when he or she is out of school. However, for most children the process takes place naturally and spontaneously. There is no need to provide a special environment for development to occur.
4. The Woods School social worker, Susan Lilley O'Connor, testified that in her opinion if S. G. were placed in a special class in the Parsippany Troy-Hills school system he would be "devastated" by the hub bub involved in functioning within the climate of a bustling junior or senior high school. Based on her experience with S. G. she believes change is very hard for him and that his study progress would be reversed and that he would become withdrawn.
I doubt that S. G. would be devastated by the environment which I saw at the Brooklawn School where young and seriously handicapped people moved comfortably and happily through the school as they went from one activity to another. However, other evidence supports Ms. O'Connor's opinion that S. G.'s progress would be slowed and that the overall drastic change might cause him to retrogress and become withdrawn.
5. Exhibit P-2 contains an October 26, 1981 psychiatric report of William T. Doherty, M.D. He apparently was retained by the child study team to evaluate S. G. He observed, among other things, that "Unfortunately S. G. is lacking in communication skills which would make any transition most difficult for him." He also stated that S. G. "would have serious difficulty handling a challenging and complicated environment in which there is much interaction with others."
6. Defendant's school psychologist, John Zaffiro, while advocating S. G.'s return to his home and the Parsippany Troy-Hills schools, candidly recognized that there are risks involved in the change proposed by defendant. This would seem to be particularly true at a time when S. G. is confronted with the usual turbulence of adolescence.
7. All the witnesses agreed that S. G. will never reach a level of development at which he can live independently. All agree that the highest obtainable objective for him is to achieve a level development where he could work at a simple task in a controlled environment such as a sheltered workshop and where he can live in a structured residence such as an adult home for handicapped people. The legal realities dictate that Parsippany Troy-Hill's responsibilities for S. G. will end when he becomes 21. The economic realities dictate that the Woods School's responsibility for S. G. will end when he attains that age. Thus the goal of each institution must be to enable him to achieve this highest obtainable level of development by the time he becomes 21.
8. Andrea Randel, Director of the Department of Communication Disorders of the Morristown Memorial Hospital examined S. G. in January, 1983. She concluded that by reason of muscular weakness and his other disorders he has expressive language skills at the level of a one and one half to two year old child. She also concluded that he can go no further in developing oral skills and must emphasize the development of sign language.
When combining sign language with such oral communication abilities as he possesses, he should be able to become functional. It was Ms. Randel's opinion that sign language should be learned not only in the classroom and during formal speech therapy sessions, but also by associating with peers and others who use sign language at all other times of the day. This S. G. could obtain to a maximum extent at a residential school and to a much lesser extent at home. The danger is that if S. G. did not have peers who use sign language to communicate with him, he would abandon his efforts to master these skills and would lose the skills that he has already developed.
9. The Woods School's program is not designed to encourage S. G.'s permanent institutionalization. Its program generally pushes each resident towards his or her next level of development with the aim of sending the person out into the community to the greatest extent feasible.
On the basis of this evidence I conclude that New Jersey's regulation implementing the mandates of the Federal Education for All Handicapped Children Act requires that S. G. continue to be educated at the Woods School.
I would request that plaintiffs' attorney prepare an order implementing this decision.
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