• I want to sue my child’s charter school

    i want to sue my childs charter school

     I want to sue my child’s charter school

    What type of lawyer do I need to sue my child’s charter school? We are often asked by perspective clients, “How can I sue my child’s charter school?” and, “What type of lawyer do I need to sue my child’s charter school?” While any properly licensed lawyer can technically sue a charter school, it is wise to choose an attorney that focuses their practice on education law and school law issues. Charter schools in Pennsylvania, generally, must follow the same federal special education laws and procedures as the public school system. However, these laws are intricate and nuanced. A misstep in interpretation of education law can cost your child valuable educational benefits. The lawyers at Montgomery Law have narrowed their practice to focus specifically on school, educational and civil rights issues. Common Cases against Charter Schools:
    • Child Find / Special education eligibility issues
    • Denial of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)
    • 504 plan issues
    • Independent Educational Evaluation Requests
    • Disciplinary Issues (Suspensions / Expulsions)
    • Drugs / Weapons
    • Child being held back in grade
    • Child being asked to leave to go back to public school
    • Bullying
    • Assault in school by students
    • Physical / Sexual assault by teachers or administrators
    • Personal injury in school or on the school bus
    • LGBTQ issues
    • Other Civil Rights issues
    Charter School Parents – Watch out for this: Of all of the above issues, one that we see the most is Charter Schools trying to unlawfully kick students out of school. What often happens (too often really) is that the student will commit some type of disciplinary infraction. The Charter School will respond  by saying (or hinting in no uncertain terms) that the child will be expelled unless the parent voluntarily withdraws the child from the school. The parents’ options then become sending the child back to the public school or hoping to find some other charter school. Parents may think this is a favor or a gift, but in actuality it helps the Charter School more than anything. The Charter School gets to get rid of a “bad kid” without having to attempt to program for that child. The Charter School also gets to avoid conducting an expulsion hearing and having an expulsion on their own record. If you are given this ultimatum by your child’s Charter School, you should contact an attorney immediately. Your child has a right to due process before they can be expelled or otherwise kicked out of their charter school.  If you are ready to sue your child’s charter school, contact an attorney from Montgomery Law today to claim your free consultation. Contact options: We look forward to fighting on your behalf!

    Directory of Pennsylvania Charter Schools:

    Charter School NamePhone #Address Line 1CityStateZip CodeGrades OfferedChief Admin NameAuthorizing School District
    Academy CS(412)885-5200900 Agnew RdPittsburghPA152278~12Mr William G StychePittsburgh SD
    Ad Prima CS(215)883-06381920 N 63rd StreetPhiladelphiaPA19151K5~8Ms Niya L BlackwellPhiladelphia City SD
    Alliance for Progress CS(215)232-48921821-39 Cecil B Moore AvePhiladelphiaPA19121K5~8Mrs Joanna HightowerPhiladelphia City SD
    Antonia Pantoja Community Charter School(215)455-13004101 North American StreetPhiladelphiaPA19140K5~8Mrs Andrea Gonzalez-KirwinPhiladelphia City SD
    Arts Academy CS(610)351-02341610 East Emmaus AvenueAllentownPA181035~8Mr William FitzpatrickSalisbury Township SD
    Arts Academy Elementary Charter School(610)657-5388601 W Union StreetAllentownPA18101K5~5Ms Joanna HughesAllentown City SD
    Avon Grove CS(484)667-5000110 E State StWest GrovePA19390K5~12Ms Kristen BishopAvon Grove SD
    Baden Academy CS(855)590-22271016 State StreetBadenPA15005K5~6Mrs Lauren BensinkAmbridge Area SD
    Bear Creek Community CS(570)820-4070-30030 Charter School WayBear Creek TownshipPA18702K5~8Mr Jim SmithWilkes-Barre Area SD
    Belmont Charter School(215)823-82084030 Brown StPhiladelphiaPA19104K5~8Ms Jennifer FaustmanPhiladelphia City SD
    Boys Latin of Philadelphia CS(215)387-51495501 Cedar AvenuePhiladelphiaPA191436~12Mr David P HardyPhiladelphia City SD
    Bucks County Montessori CS(215)428-6700219 Tyburn RdFairless HillsPA19030K5~6Mr Brian P LongPennsbury SD
    Capital Area School for the Arts Charter School(717)732-8450150 Strawberry SquareHarrisburgPA171019~12Mr Timothy R WendlingHarrisburg City SD
    Center for Student Learning CS at Pennsbury(215)269-7390345 Lakeside DriveLevittownPA190546~12Dr Charles BonnerPennsbury SD
    Charter High School for Architecture and Design(215)351-2900105 S. 7th St, 5th FlrPhiladelphiaPA191069~12Mr Gregory WrightPhiladelphia City SD
    Chester Co Family Academy CS(610)696-5910530 E. Union StreetWest ChesterPA19382-K5~2Ms Susan FlynnWest Chester Area SD
    Chester Community CS(610)447-0400302 East 5th StChesterPA19013K5~8Dr David E Clark JrChester-Upland SD
    Chester CS for the Arts(610)859-30101500 Highland AvenueChesterPA19013K5~10Mrs Akosua WattsChester-Upland SD
    Christopher Columbus CS(215)925-7400916 Christian St, North BldgPhiladelphiaPA19147K5~8Ms Rosemary DoughertyPhiladelphia City SD
    Circle of Seasons Charter School(610)597-49818380 Mohr LaneFogelsvillePA18051K5~6Mr Phil ArnoldNorthwestern Lehigh SD
    City CHS(412)690-2489201 Stanwix Street, Ste 100PittsburghPA152229~12Dr Ron SofoPittsburgh SD
    Collegium CS(610)903-1300435 Creamery Way, Ste 300ExtonPA19341-K5~12Dr Antoinette RathWest Chester Area SD
    Community Academy of Philadelphia CS(215)533-67001100 E Erie AvePhiladelphiaPA19124-5424K5~12Mr Joseph H ProiettaPhiladelphia City SD
    Crispus Attucks CS(717)848-3610605 S Duke St.YorkPA1740310~12Ms Jacqueline Martino-MillerYork City SD
    Discovery Charter School(215)879-81824700 Parkside AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19131K5~8Mrs Tonia ElmorePhiladelphia City SD
    Dr Robert Ketterer CS, Inc.(724)537-91101133 Village WayLatrobePA15650-17641~12Mr Eric GuldinGreater Latrobe SD
    Eastern University Academy Charter School(215)769-31313300 Henry Ave. Ste 2, 3 Fall CenterPhiladelphiaPA19129-11217~12Mr Omar BarlowPhiladelphia City SD
    Easton Arts Academy Elementary CS(610)252-5500PO Box 1208EastonPA18044K5~5Ms Joanna HughesEaston Area SD
    Environmental Charter School at Frick Park(412)247-7970829 Milton StreetPittsburghPA15218K5~8Mr Jon McCannPittsburgh SD
    Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School(814)520-64682501 Plum StreetEriePA16502K5~8Mr Terry A LangErie City SD
    Esperanza Academy Charter School(215)457-3667301 W Hunting Park AvePhiladelphiaPA191406~12Mr David RossiPhiladelphia City SD
    Eugenio Maria De Hostos CS(215)455-23004322 N 5th St, 3rd FlrPhiladelphiaPA19140-K5~8Mrs Andrea Gonzalez-KirwinPhiladelphia City SD
    Evergreen Community CS(570)595-6355PO Box 523MountainhomePA183426~12Ms Jill ShoesmithPocono Mountain SD
    Executive Education Academy Charter School(610)841-7044555 Union Boulevard, Suite #24AllentownPA18109K5~11Mr Robert J LysekAllentown City SD
    Fell CS(570)282-5199777 Main StreetSimpsonPA18407K5~9Ms Mary Jo WalshCarbondale Area SD
    First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School(215)743-31004300 Tacony StPhiladelphiaPA19124K5~12Dr Joseph GillespiePhiladelphia City SD
    Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures CS(215)569-26001023 Callowhill StPhiladelphiaPA19123K5~8Ms Ellen SomekawaPhiladelphia City SD
    Franklin Towne Charter Elementary School(215)289-33894259 Richmond StreetPhiladelphiaPA19137-K5~8Mr Joseph M VendittiPhiladelphia City SD
    Franklin Towne CHS(215)289-5000, Box 310-Bldg 108PhiladelphiaPA19137-23089~12Mr Joseph VendittiPhiladelphia City SD
    Frederick Douglass Mastery Charter School(267)443-06735700 Wayne AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19144-K5~8Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Freire CS(215)557-85552027 Chestnut StreetPhiladelphiaPA19103-5~12Mr Christopher ZagackiPhiladelphia City SD
    Gettysburg Montessori Charter School(717)334-1120888 Coleman RoadGettysburgPA17325K5~9Ms Faye PlesoGettysburg Area SD
    Gillingham Charter School(570)955-3830915 Howard AvenuePottsvillePA17901K5~12Ms Nicolle HutchinsonPottsville Area SD
    Global Leadership Academy CS(267)295-57004601 Girard AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19131K5~8Dr Naomi Johnson-BookerPhiladelphia City SD
    Global Leadership Academy CS Southwest at Huey(267)295-57005200 Pine StreetPhiladelphiaPA19143K5~8Ms Tamika EvansPhiladelphia City SD
    Green Woods CS(215)482-6337468 Domino LanePhiladelphiaPA19128K5~8Dr Leroy NuneryPhiladelphia City SD
    Harambee Institute of Science and Technology CS(215)472-8770640 N 66th StPhiladelphiaPA19151K5~8Ms Sandra Dungee GlennPhiladelphia City SD
    Helen Thackston Charter School(717)846-6160625 East Philadelphia St.YorkPA174035~12Mr Carlos LopezYork City SD
    Hill House Passport Academy Charter School(412)376-3724510 Heldman StreetPittsburghPA152199~12Mr Jeffrey R JacksonPittsburgh SD
    HOPE for Hyndman CS(814)842-3918130 School DriveHyndmanPA15545K5~12Dr Thomas OtisBedford Area SD
    I-LEAD Charter School(855)453-2327401 Penn StreetReadingPA196019~12Mr Angel FigueroaReading SD
    Imhotep Institute CHS(215)438-41406201 N. 21st St.PhiladelphiaPA19138-2597K5~8Dr Ayesha ImaniPhiladelphia City SD
    Independence CS(215)238-80001600 Lombard StreetPhiladelphiaPA19146K5~5Mr Thomas ScheidPhiladelphia City SD
    Independence CS West(215)238-8000-56005600 Chester AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19143K5~8Mr Julio C NunezPhiladelphia City SD
    Infinity CS(717)238-188051 Banks St, Ste 1PenbrookPA171036~12Ms Suzanne GausmanCentral Dauphin SD
    Innovative Arts Academy CS(570)350-2338330 Howertown Rd.CatasauquaPA18032K4~4Mr Douglas TaylorCatasauqua Area SD
    Inquiry Charter School(215)790-12941630 Locust Street, Flr 3PhiladelphiaPA19103-5~8Ms Jennifer FaustmanPhiladelphia City SD
    John B Stetson Charter School(215)455-13004322 N 5th Street, 3rd FlrPhiladelphiaPA19134-2202K5~8Mrs Andrea Gonzalez-KirwinPhiladelphia City SD
    Keystone Academy Charter School(215)332-21114521 Longshore AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19135K5~8Dr Claudia LylesPhiladelphia City SD
    Khepera CS(215)843-1700926 West Sedgley AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19132K5~8Mr Darnell SulaimanPhiladelphia City SD
    KIPP DuBois Charter School(215)307-34655070 Parkside AvenuePhiladelphiaPA191319~12Ms Melissa PoormanPhiladelphia City SD
    KIPP Philadelphia Charter School(215)227-17282539 N. 16th StreetPhiladelphiaPA19132K5~8Mr Ben SpeicherPhiladelphia City SD
    KIPP West Philadelphia CS(215)294-85965900 Baltimore Avenue, Ste 206PhiladelphiaPA19143K5~4Ms Diana FiloPhiladelphia City SD
    KIPP West Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School(215)294-29735900 Baltimore Ave.PhiladelphiaPA191435~8Mr Cheshonna MilesPhiladelphia City SD
    La Academia Partnership Charter School(717)295-776330 N Ann StLancasterPA176026~12Mr Guillermo A BarrosoLancaster SD
    Laboratory CS(215)452-5580-304Administrative Office, 5901 Woodbine AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19131K5~8Ms Stacey CruisePhiladelphia City SD
    Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School(610)419-3120675 E Broad StBethlehemPA18018-K5~8Ms Elsie PerezBethlehem Area SD
    Lincoln CS(717)699-1573559 W King St.YorkPA17401-3706K5~5Mr Leonard HartYork City SD
    Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School(484)860-33001414 E. Cedar St.AllentownPA18109K5~12Mrs Sandra Figueroa-TorresAllentown City SD
    Lincoln Park Performing Arts CS(724)643-9004-1312One Lincoln ParkMidlandPA150597~12Mr Patrick K PolingMidland Borough SD
    Lindley Academy CS at Birney(215)456-3000-1111900 West Lindley AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19141K5~8Mr Kareem ThomasPhiladelphia City SD
    Manchester Academic CS(412)322-05851214 Liverpool StPittsburghPA15233-1304K5~8Mr Vasilios A ScoumisPittsburgh SD
    Mariana Bracetti Academy CS(215)291-44361840 Torresdale AvePhiladelphiaPA19124-K5~12Ms Angela VillaniPhiladelphia City SD
    Maritime Academy Charter School(215)535-45552275 Bridge StPhiladelphiaPA191372~12Mr Ed PoznekPhiladelphia City SD
    MAST Community Charter School(267)348-11001800 E Byberry RdPhiladelphiaPA19116K5~12Mr John F Swoyer IIIPhiladelphia City SD
    MaST Community CS II(267)348-12156238 Rising Sun AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19111K5~4Mr John F Swoyer IIIPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CHS – Lenfest Campus(215)922-1902-223235 S. 4th StreetPhiladelphiaPA191067~12Mr Scott H GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS – Cleveland Elementary(215)227-50423701 N. 19th StreetPhiladelphiaPA19140K5~8Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS – Francis D. Pastorius Elementary(215)951-56895650 Sprague StreetPhiladelphiaPA19138K5~8Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS – Hardy Williams(215)724-23435400 Warrington StreetPhiladelphiaPA19143K5~12Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS John Wister Elementary(215)951-400367 E. Bringhurst StreetPhiladelphiaPA19144-2338K5~5Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Clymer Elementary(215)227-86101201 W. Rush StreetPhiladelphiaPA19133K5~6Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Gratz Campus(215)227-44081798 West Hunting Park AvenuePhiladelphiaPA191407~12Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Harrity Campus(215)471-29085601 Christian StreetPhiladelphiaPA19143K5~8Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Mann Campus(215)581-56165376 W. Berks StreetPhiladelphiaPA19131K5~6Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Pickett Campus(215)866-9000-10025700 Wayne AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19144-6~12Mr Scott H GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Shoemaker Campus(267)296-7111-41055301 Media StreetPhiladelphiaPA191317~12Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Smedley Campus(215)537-25251790 Bridge StreetPhiladelphiaPA19124K5~6Mr Scott GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Mastery CS-Thomas Campus(267)236-0036-3111927 Johnston StreetPhiladelphiaPA19148K5~12Mr Scott H GordonPhiladelphia City SD
    Math Civics and Sciences CS(215)923-4880447 N Broad StPhiladelphiaPA191231~12Ms Veronica J JoynerPhiladelphia City SD
    Memphis Street Academy CS @ JP Jones(215)291-47092950 Memphis StreetPhiladelphiaPA191345~8Mrs Antoinette PowellPhiladelphia City SD
    Multicultural Academy CS(215)227-05133821 North Broad StreetPhiladelphiaPA191409~12Mr James HigginsPhiladelphia City SD
    New Foundations CS(215)624-81008001 Torresdale AvePhiladelphiaPA19136K5~12Mr Paul StadelbergerPhiladelphia City SD
    Nittany Valley CS(814)867-38421612 Norma StState CollegePA16801K5~8Ms Kara MartinState College Area SD
    Northwood Academy CS(215)289-56064621 Castor AvePhiladelphiaPA19124K5~8Ms Amy HollisterPhiladelphia City SD
    Olney Charter High School(215)456-30144322 N 5th Street, 3rd FloorPhiladelphiaPA19120-9~12Mrs Andrea Gonzalez-KirwinPhiladelphia City SD
    Pan American Academy CS(215)763-88702830 North American StreetPhiladelphiaPA19133-K5~8Dr Darcy RussottoPhiladelphia City SD
    Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship(412)793-64712501 Main StreetPittsburghPA15235K5~8Mr Wayne JonesPenn Hills SD
    People for People CS(215)763-7060800 N. Broad StPhiladelphiaPA19130K5~9Mr Priyethan SeebadriPhiladelphia City SD
    Perseus House CS of Excellence(814)480-59621511 Peach StreetEriePA165016~12Dr Nick ViglioneErie City SD
    Philadelphia Academy CS(215)676-832011000 Roosevelt BlvdPhiladelphiaPA19116K5~12Ms Anna Marie SiegmannPhiladelphia City SD
    Philadelphia Electrical & Tech CHS(267)514-18231420-22 Chestnut StPhiladelphiaPA191029~12Ms Erin DoughertyPhiladelphia City SD
    Philadelphia Montessori CS(215)365-40112227 Island RdPhiladelphiaPA19142-1009PreKF,K5F~6Ms Letitia BiddlePhiladelphia City SD
    Philadelphia Performing Arts CS(215)551-40002600 S Broad StPhiladelphiaPA19145K5~12Ms Angela T PuleioPhiladelphia City SD
    Premier Arts and Science Charter School(717)236-3194500 North 17th StreetHarrisburgPA17103K5~5Ms Darlene M SmithHarrisburg City SD
    Preparatory CS of Mathematics, Science, Tech, and Careers(215)334-61441928 Point Breeze AvePhiladelphiaPA191459~12Dr Chadwick AntonioPhiladelphia City SD
    Propel CS – Hazelwood(412)325-73055401 Glenwood AvePittsburghPA15208-K5~8Ms Tina ChekanPittsburgh SD
    Propel CS-Braddock Hills(412)325-73051500 Yost BlvdPittsburghPA15221-4822K5~12Ms Tina ChekanWoodland Hills SD
    Propel CS-Homestead(412)325-7305-100129 E. Tenth AvenuePittsburghPA15120K5~12Dr Tina ChekanSteel Valley SD
    Propel CS-McKeesport(412)325-73052412 Versailles AvenueMcKeesportPA15132K5~8Ms Tina ChekanMcKeesport Area SD
    Propel CS-Montour(412)325-7305340 Bilmar DrPittsburghPA15205K5~10Ms Tina ChekanMontour SD
    Propel CS-Northside(412)325-73051805 Buenz Vista StreetPittsburghPA15212K5~8Ms Tina ChekanPittsburgh SD
    Propel CS-Pitcairn(412)325-7305-111435 Agatha StreetPittsburghPA15140K5~8Ms Tina ChekanGateway SD
    Provident CS(412)636-20141400 Troy Hill RoadPittsburghPA152123~6Mr Brett MarcouxPittsburgh SD
    Renaissance Academy CS(610)983-4080413 Fairview StreetPhoenixvillePA19460-K5~12Ms Gina Guarino-BuliPhoenixville Area SD
    Richard Allen Preparatory CS(215)878-15442601 S 58th StPhiladelphiaPA191435~9Mr Lawrence F Jones JrPhiladelphia City SD
    Robert Benjamin Wiley Community CS(814)461-96001446 East Lake RdEriePA16507-1936PREK~12Mr Peter RussoErie City SD
    Roberto Clemente CS(610)439-5181136 S 4th StAllentownPA18102-0000K5~12Dr Samuel PolancoAllentown City SD
    Russell Byers CS(215)972-17001911 Arch StPhiladelphiaPA19103K4~6Mr Jesse BeanPhiladelphia City SD
    Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School(215)288-20012501 Kensington Avenue, #2533PhiladelphiaPA19125-1321K5~12Dr Ayesha ImaniPhiladelphia City SD
    School Lane CS(215)245-60552400 Bristol PikeBensalemPA19020-5263K5~12Ms Karen A SchadeBensalem Township SD
    Seven Generations Charter School(610)421-8844154 E. Minor StreetEmmausPA18049K5~5Mr Paul HunterEast Penn SD
    Souderton CS Collaborative(215)721-4560110 E Broad StSoudertonPA18964K5~8Ms Jennifer ArevaloSouderton Area SD
    Southwest Leadership Academy CS(215)729-19397101 Paschall AvePhiladelphiaPA19142K5~8Mr Alphonso EvansPhiladelphia City SD
    Spectrum CS(412)374-81304369 Northern PikeMonroevillePA151467~12Ms Michelle A JohnsonGateway SD
    Stone Valley Community CS(814)667-270513006 Greenwood RoadHuntingdonPA16652K5~5Dr Kimberly A ConnellyHuntingdon Area SD
    Sugar Valley Rural CS(570)725-7822236 E Main StLogantonPA17747K5~12Ms Tracie KennedyKeystone Central SD
    Sylvan Heights Science CS(717)232-9220915 S 13th StHarrisburgPA17104K5~4Mr Timothy S HessHarrisburg City SD
    Tacony Academy Charter School(215)742-51001330 Rhawn StreetPhiladelphiaPA19111K5~12Mrs Ashley Redfearn-NeswickPhiladelphia City SD
    TECH Freire CS(267)507-11112221 North Broad StreetPhiladelphiaPA19132-45309~12Mr David J ShahriariPhiladelphia City SD
    The Philadelphia CS for Arts and Sciences at HR Edmunds(215)537-25201197 Haworth StreetPhiladelphiaPA19124K5~8Mr Ken DetweilerPhiladelphia City SD
    Tidioute Community CS(814)484-3550241 Main StTidioutePA16351-1222K4~12Mr Douglas AllenWarren County SD
    Universal Alcorn CS(215)952-26853200 Dickinson StreetPhiladelphiaPA19146K5~8Mr Rahim IslamPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Audenried Charter School(215)952-48013301 Tasker StreetPhiladelphiaPA191459~12Mr Rahimm IslamPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Bluford Charter School(215)732-6518800 S 15th StPhiladelphiaPA19146-2105K5~6Mr Shadied Dawan SrPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Creighton Charter School(215)537-25315401 Tabor AvenuePhiladelphiaPA19120K5~8Mr Rahim IslamPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Daroff Charter School(215)732-65185630 Vine StreetPhiladelphiaPA19139K5~8Mr Shahied A Dawan SrPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Institute CS(215)732-7988801 S 15th StPhiladelphiaPA19146K5~9Mr Rahim IslamPhiladelphia City SD
    Universal Vare Charter School(215)952-86112100 South 24th StreetPhiladelphiaPA191455~8Mr Rahim Islam SrPhiladelphia City SD
    Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh CS(412)361-1008437 Turett StreetPittsburghPA15206-K5~5Mr K. Chase PattersonPittsburgh SD
    Urban Pathways 6-12 CS(412)392-4601914 Penn AvePittsburghPA152226~12Ms Kathleen GarlandPittsburgh SD
    Urban Pathways K-5 College Charter School(412)325-4075925 Penn AvenuePittsburghPA15222K5~5Ms Kimberly FitzgeraldPittsburgh SD
    Vision Academy Charter School(484)466-634145 E Baltimore AvenueLansdownePA19050K4~6Mr Isik DurmusWilliam Penn SD
    West Oak Lane CS(215)927-79957115 Stenton AvePhiladelphiaPA19138K5~8Dr Debbera Peoples-LeePhiladelphia City SD
    West Phila. Achievement CES(215)476-64716701 Callowhill StreetPhiladelphiaPA19151K5~5Dr Stacy R Gill-PhillipsPhiladelphia City SD
    Westinghouse Arts Academy CS(412)518-0907PO Box 101333PittsburghPA152379~12Mr Sal AloeEast Allegheny SD
    Widener Partnership CS(610)872-13581450 Edgmont AvenueChesterPA19013K5~8Mrs April ThomasChester-Upland SD
    Wissahickon CS(267)338-10204700 G Wissahickon AvePhiladelphiaPA19144K5~8Ms Kristi LittellPhiladelphia City SD
    Wonderland CS(814)234-58862112 Sandy DrState CollegePA16803-2282K5~5Mrs Kelly J RaudabaughState College Area SD
    Young Scholars CS(215)232-9727900 N Marshall StPhiladelphiaPA191235~8Mr John AmendaPhiladelphia City SD
    Young Scholars of Central PA CS(814)237-9727-1031530 Westerly ParkwayState CollegePA16801K5~8Mr Levent KayaState College Area SD
    Young Scholars of McKeesport Charter School(412)218-1068413 Shaw AvenueMcKeesportPA15132K4~8Mr Halil DemirMcKeesport Area SD
    Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania CS(412)668-2064600 Newport DriveBaldwin TownshipPA15234K5~8Mr Kasim BiyikliBaldwin-Whitehall SD
    Youth Build Phila CS(215)627-8671-281231 N Broad St, 3rd FlrPhiladelphiaPA1912212 onlyMr Scott EmerickPhiladelphia City SD
  • AV vs. North Allegheny School District

    This is a redacted version of the original hearing officer decision. Select details may have been removed from the decision to preserve anonymity of the student. The redactions do not affect the substance of the document.

    HEARING OFFICER DECISION/ORDER:

    IN RE: AV, FILE 8096/07-08 LS NORTH ALLEGHENY SCHOOL DISTRICT

    Type of Hearing: Closed Dates of Hearing: 11/20/07; 12/19/07; 1/4/08; 1/11/08; 1/22/08; 1/28/08; 2/6/08; 2/11/08; 3/17/08; 3/19/08

    I. PARTIES TO THE HEARING

    PARENTS: Mr. and Mrs.

    PARENTS’ REPRESENTATIVE:

    Charles Jelley, Esquire Tremba, Jelley, and Whelton, LLC 229 South Maple Avenue, Suite 201 Greensburg, PA 15601 724-838-7600 [email protected]

    DISTRICT CONTACT:

    North Allegheny School District 500 Cumberland Road Pittsburgh, PA 15237 412-635-4109

    DISTRICT’S REPRESENTATIVE:

    Michael Brungo, Esquire Maiello, Brungo, & Maiello 3301 McCrady Road Pittsburgh, PA 15235-5137 412-242-4400 [email protected]

    DATE TRANSCRIPT RECEIVED:

    3/23/08

    HEARING OFFICER:

    Dorothy J. O’Shea, Ph.D.

    ___________________________

    Signature: Hearing Officer

    DATE OF DECISION/ORDER:

     
    II. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Student is an eligible student, enrolled in the North Allegheny School District (the “District”). In September of 2007, Mr. and Mrs. (“Student’s Parents”) made a due process hearing request, alleging eight claims: denial of Student’s free, appropriate public education (“FAPE”); compensatory education for time of FAPE denial; accrual date of Student’s claim for FAPE denial; exceptions to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) (referred to hereafter as “IDEA”); a Continuing Violations Doctrine; reimbursement for an Independent Educational Evaluation (“IEE”); discrimination; and Extended School Year (“ESY”) services (Narrative Transcript, pages 1-23: NT 1-23).
     

    IV . ISSUES

    • Did the District provide Student with a FAPE in the form of an appropriate IEP for his sixth grade (i.e., 2005/2006 school year), his seventh grade (i.e., 2006/2007 school year), and his eighth grade (2007/2008 school year up to October 9, 2007)?
    • Is Student entitled to compensatory education for time of denial of FAPE, which may include a period of time prior to 2005/2006 and through October 9, 2007?
    • What is the accrual date of Student’s claim for denial of FAPE?
    • Do any of the exceptions in the IDEA apply, including, a) specific misrepresentation, and b) failure to provide mandated information?
    • Does a Continuing Violation Doctrine apply?
    • Is Student eligible for IDEA reimbursement for an IEE?
    • Did the District discriminate against Student by denying him a FAPE?
    • Did the District provide Student an appropriate ESY during the summer of 2006 and the summer of 2007, and with the possible inclusion of ESY in prior years?
      AV-NORTH-ALLEGHENY-ODRNo-8096-07-08-LS
  • AT vs. Lake-Lehman School District

    This is a redacted version of the original decision. Select details have been removed from the decision to preserve anonymity of the student. The redactions do not affect the substance of the document.

    SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

    DECISION

    Child’s Name: AT Closed Hearing ODR No. 8852/07-08 KE

    Parents: Mr. and Ms.

    School District:

    Lake-Lehman School District P.O. Box 38 Lehman, PA 18627-0038

    Parents’ Representative: Mark W. Voigt, Esquire Suite 400 600 West Germantown Pike Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

    District Representative:

    David F. Conn, Esquire Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, LLP 331 Butler Avenue P.O. Box 5069 New Britain, PA 18901

     

    INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

    Student (Student) is a [pre-teen age] eligible child who resides within the Lake- Lehman School District (District). (NT 13.) The Student at all relevant times was identified as a child with a disability for special education purposes under the categories of Autism and Speech and Language Impairment. (NT 9-12.) The Student currently attends a private school. (NT 391-489.) Until December 21, 2007, the Student attended the [redacted] Elementary School (School). (NT 21, 29; S-53.) Mr. and Ms. (Parents) requested due process by letter of counsel dated May 14, 2008, alleging that the District had failed to provide a FAPE for the two years prior to the filing of the Complaint Notice. Parents requested tuition reimbursement and transportation to a private school, reimbursement for an independent educational evaluation and compensatory education for two school years, in the amount of three hours per school day. (NT 23.) The Parents requested that compensatory education encompass Extended School Year (ESY) services for two summers. (NT 33.)1 In the 1 Parents had requested an order for Extended School Year services, but later withdrew that request.
    alternative, the Parents requested an order requiring the District to provide the program that the independent educational evaluator had recommended. (NT 30-31.) The District asserted that the Student had made meaningful progress during the time in question. It asserted that the Parents gave no notice of dissatisfaction with the District’s evaluations. Therefore, it argued that no relief was appropriate. (NT 24-28.) The hearing was conducted on four dates from August 6, 2008 to October 16, 2008. The parties requested written summations, and the deadline was extended at request of counsel. The record closed on November 7, 2008, upon receipt of the parties’ summations.2
    2 Parents’ summation is marked HO-1; District summation is marked HO-2.
     

    ISSUES

    1. Did the District offer and implement an appropriate IEP during the period from May 14, 2006 until the date on which the Student left the District, December 21, 2007, so as to provide the Student with a free and appropriate public education?
    2. Was the Student entitled to Extended School Year services during the summers of 2007 and 2008, and did the District provide appropriate ESY services?
    3. Should the hearing officer award compensatory education to the Student for any part of the period from May 14, 2006 until the date on which Student left the District, December 21, in the amount of three hours per school day, as well as compensatory education in respect to ESY for the summers of 2007 and 2008?
    4. Should the hearing officer award tuition reimbursement and transportation costs for the period from December 21, 2007 to August 6, 2008 for the cost of tuition at the Private School?
    5. In the alternative, should the hearing officer award compensatory education for the period from December 21, 2007 to August 6, 2008?
    6. In the alternative, should the hearing officer order an appropriate educational program for the Student prospectively?
    7. Should the hearing officer award reimbursement for the cost of the independent educational evaluation of the Parents’ expert.
    AT-Lake-Lehman-ODRNo-8852-07-08-KE
  • One child’s story of abuse

    One child's story of abuse
    The statistics on child abuse and bulling are as eye opening as they are heartbreaking. If you think that a child may be being abused or may be in danger of harm, contact the police or child services immediately. Sadly, the signs and symptoms of child abuse and bullying can be subtle. Beware of children who have an adult knowledge of sexual words and phrases or engage in sexual gestures. Never leave your children with unknown adults and always remind your children that they can tell you anything and they should never withhold information from you to protect someone else. Also remind your children they they will never being in trouble for tell you something that someone else did to them.
    Child abuse and bullying are social health issues. We all know that any form of abuse is devastating to the little lives of many children in America, and for some it’s even fatal. But, did you know that each week in America, the equivalent of a classroom of children is lost forever due to child abuse, neglect, and bullying? – that’s 5 a day! – That’s not acceptable!
    Click here to view original web page at americanspcc.org
  • AP vs. Avon Grove School District

    This is a redacted version of the original decision. Select details have been removed from the decision to preserve anonymity of the student. The redactions do not affect the substance of the document.  

    Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer

    Final Decision and Order

    CLOSED HEARING ODR File Number: 19455 17

    Child’s Name: A. P.

    Date of Birth: [redacted]

    Dates of Hearing: 08/14/2017, 08/23/2017, 08/30/2017

    Grandparents / Guardians:

    [redacted]

    Counsel for Parent Lorrie McKinley, Esquire, McKinley & Ryan, LLC, 238 West Miner Street, West Chester, PA

    Local Educationl Agency: Avon Grove School District, 107 Schoolhouse Road, West Grove, PA Counsel for the LEA Kathleen M. Metcalfe, Esquire, Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP, 331 Butler Avenue, New Britain, PA

    Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford, JD, CHO

    Date of Decision: 09/11/2017

     

    Introduction

    This matter concerns the educational rights of a student (the Student) who is transitioning from early intervention (EI) to school age services.1 The Student is a “child with a disability”, specifically Autism, as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. EI services were provided by the Student’s local Intermediate Unit (IU), which was also the Student’s local educational agency (LEA) at that time. School age services are provided by the Student’s public school district (the District), which became the Student’s LEA at the start of the 2017-18 school year. This hearing was requested by the Student’s grandparents (the Grandparents). The Grandparents are the Student’s legal guardians, and have the same rights as the Student’s parents for IDEA purposes. See 20 U.S.C. § 1401. This dispute primarily is about whether the District must continue certain aspects of the Student’s EI Individualized Educational Program (IEP).2 Those aspects are:
    1. TheEIIEPprovidedafull-timeAutisticSupport(AS)program,meaningthatthe Student’s services were provided by special education personnel for 80% or more of the school day. The District’s proposed IEP offers a supplemental level of AS programming, meaning that the Student’s services will be provided by special education personnel for more than 20% but less than 80% of the school day.
    2. TheEIIEPprovidedspeechandlanguagetherapy(S/LT),occupationaltherapy (OT), and a co-treatment session in which OT and S/LT are provided at the same time. The District’s proposed IEP removes the co-treatment session.
    3. TheEIIEPspecifiesthattheStudentwillbetransportedtoandfromschool wearing a harness for safety (described below). The District’s purposed IEP continues the transportation, but without the harness.
    In addition, the Grandparents claim that the District’s proposed IEP provides insufficient transition services to enable the Student to move from EI to school age programming. The Grandparents also claim that they were denied an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the IEP development process. 1 Except for the cover page of this decision, identifying information is omitted to the greatest extent possible. 2 The EI IEP is drafted on a form that is also used for Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs). The document in question, as discussed below, is an EI IEP, not an IFSP. To paraphrase Justice Kagan, welcome to—and apologies for—the acronymic world of special education. See Fry v. Napoleon Cmty. Sch., 137 S. Ct. 743, 749 (2017).

    Issues:

    1. Must the District place the Student into a full-time AS program?
    2. Does the District’s proposed IEP provide sufficient transition services?
    3. Must the District provide an OT with S/LT co-treatment session?
    4. Must the District use the Student’s harness when transporting the Student?
    5. Were the Grandparents given an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the development of the Student’s IEP?

      Stipulations

    The parties drafted and submitted extensive factual stipulations. I incorporate those stipulations by reference and, except as noted, adopt them as if they were my own findings. The stipulations address the Student’s residency and custody, educational history up to the start of the hearing, related services provided under the Student’s EI IEP, and a chronology of events as the Student transitioned from EI to school age programming. I reject one aspect of the parties’ stipulations. The stipulations incorrectly characterize the Student’s EI IEP as an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). As discussed below, IFSPs are plans developed under Part C of the IDEA for children from birth to age three.3 IFSPs target the developmental needs of children with disabilities. After age three, children move into Part B of the IDEA, which applies to students from age three to 21. Those children receive IEPs, which target their educational needs. Pennsylvania regulations, also discussed below, keep children between ages three and five in Pennsylvania’s EI system.4 Those regulations do not diminish a child’s rights under IDEA Part B. Although those children are still served by the EI system, they receive IEPs. As discussed below, this distinction makes a difference in this case. To be clear, the Student’s EI IEP was drafted on a form promulgated by the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) that is used for both IFSPs and EI IEPs. That document, P-15, has both labels and refers to IFSPs and IEPs interchangeably at certain points. See, e.g. P-15 at 1. Regardless of the form, the substance of IFSPs and IEPs are different because their intent is different. As a matter of law, the Student had an IEP after age three while participating in Pennsylvania’s EI system. 3 More specifically, IDEA Part C applies to at risk infants and toddlers, who are “individual[s] under three years of age”. 34 C.F.R. § 303.5. 4 Technically, children with disabilities remain in Pennsylvania’s EI system until they reach the “age of beginners”, which may occur after age five in some cases. See 22 Pa. Code § 11.
    The Student did not have an IFSP prior to the District’s offer. Rather, the Student had an EI IEP. As a matter of law, the EI IEP targeted the Student’s educational needs. I decline to copy the stipulations (eight pages of 66 numbered stipulations, many including multiple sub-parts, most in need of redaction) here. Rather, I will restate some stipulations within my findings below, as necessary for context. However, I write for individuals who are familiar with the stipulations. Importantly, both parties agree that the Student is properly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and has significant needs. The stipulations, in conjunction with the evidence presented during the hearing, form a clear picture of the severity of the Student’s needs. There is no dispute about that severity. Rather, the parties disagree about how the Student’s needs should be addressed, and about the scope of the District’s obligations to the Student. I commend both parties and their attorneys for their excellent work in drafting the stipulations. No time was wasted during the hearing with the presentation of facts that are not in dispute.

    Findings of Fact

    All documentary evidence and testimony was carefully considered. I make findings of fact, however, only as necessary to resolve the issues presented. Consequently, not every document and not every aspect of every witnesses’ testimony is referenced. Amount of Autistic Support and Participation in Regular Education
    1. Duringthe2016-17schoolyear,theStudentreceivedEIservicesinabuilding that houses an AS support classroom, other special education classrooms, a regular education Head Start program, and a vocational-technical program for high school students and high school graduates. Stip ¶ 12.
    2. TheEIIEPplacedtheStudentinfull-timeASsupport.P-15.Morespecifically, the Student was assigned to a self-contained verbal behavior program throughout the school day. Stip ¶ 12.
    3. TheStudentwasaccompaniedbytherapeuticstaffsupport(TSS)throughoutthe school day. The TSS was assigned to the Student by a third-party agency. NT passim.
    4. TheStudentattendedtheEIprogramfour(4)daysperweek,sixandonehalf (6.5) hours per day. Stip ¶ 14.
    5. TheEIIEPdoesnotspecifythenumberofhoursthattheStudentreceived special education. Rather, the EI IEP specifies that the Student was “integrated into activities in the Head Start setting for a minimum of 1 hour per month…” P- 15 at 25; S-1 at 23.
    1. TheStudentattendedaprogramintheEIbuildingcalled“theBigDay”onetime per month for one hour. During that time, all of the EI classes in the building would participate in structured activities with the Head Start students. See, e.g. NT at 42-43.
    2. StartinginFebruary2017,theStudentwouldparticipateinprogramminginthe Head Start classroom, with the TSS, for 30 minutes, two to three times per week.
    3. TheStudentparticipatedinrecesswithstudentsfromalloftheEIclassesand the Head Start program. See, e.g. NT 45.
    4. Exceptforrecess,participationinHeadStarttwoorthreetimesperweek,and the monthly Big Day, the Student received all services in the AS classroom (including lunch). NT 101.
    10.Based on the foregoing, from February 2017, the Student received 6.5 hours of EI programming per day, 4 days per week. Of those, approximately 5.5 hours were spent in the AS classroom, two to three days per week. The other days, approximately 6.0 hours were spent in the AS classroom.5 This comes to 26 hours per week of service. Of those, the Student spent either 22.5 or 23.5 hours in the AS classroom. Consequently, the Student spent 86.5% or 90.3% of the day in the AS classroom. I find that, on average, the Student spent 88.4% of the day in the AS classroom from February 2017 through the end of the 2016-17 school year. 11.The District’s proposed IEP calls for the Student to attend school 5 days per week, 7 hours per day. Of those, the District proposes that the Student spend 5 hours per day in a verbal behavior AS classroom, and 2 hours per day outside of the AS classroom. That time includes recess and “specials” (art, music, etc.). S- 20 at 32; NT passim. 12.Under the District’s proposal, the Student would spend 25 hours per week in the AS classroom, and 10 hours per week elsewhere. Stated as percentages, the Student would spend 71% of the day in the AS classroom.6 5 The record does not reveal exactly how long recess was. I assume half an hour. One time per month, approximately 4.5 hours were spent in the AS classroom when the Student participated in the Big Day. I do not factor that monthly occurrence into my calculation. 6 As a technical matter, school-age IEPs calculate the amount of time that students spend inside the regular classroom, not the amount of time that students spend in special education. Also, and importantly, special education is not a place, as discussed below.
    Co-Treatment 13.The Student was evaluated at a children’s hospital on September 6 and July 14, 2016. Stip. ¶ 25. 14.The September 2016 evaluation resulted in an “Outpatient Occupational Therapy Initial Evaluation” report from the hospital. P-6. The report recommended 60- minute OT and S/LT co-treatment sessions, for an unspecified number of sessions over an unspecified period. P-6 at 4. In context, the recommendation is for outpatient treatment through the hospital, with parent education to carry over skills into natural environments (home and school). Id. 15.The July 2017 evaluation resulted in an “Occupational Therapy Assessment” report from the hospital. P-7. That report also recommended OT and S/LT co- treatment, but at a rate of one session per week for 15 minutes per session. P-7 at 9. 16.The Grandparents gave the July 2017 report to the IU on July 17, 2017. Stip. ¶ 24. 17.The Student’s EI IEP was revised to include one, 15-minute OT and S/LT co- treatment session per week. P-15 at 23. 18.The District’s proposed IEP does not include an OT and S/LT co-treatment session. S-20. The Harness 19.Throughout early intervention, the Student was transported to and from school by the IU in a van. Stip. ¶¶ 31, 32. 20.One way that the Student interacts with others is by playing “chase”. The Student will run away from others so that others will chase the Student. See NT 45, 245, 278, 325-326, 376, 400, 420, 467, 488, 615. 21.In November or December 2015, the Student ran between the IU’s van, which was moving, and another vehicle when exiting the van at the end of the day. See, e.g. NT 397-398. It is not clear if this elopement was a form of the Student playing chase, or if it served some other function. 22.In response to this incident, the Grandparents requested, and the IU provided a 1:1 aide on the van for the Student. Stip. ¶¶ 31, 32. 23.Also in response to this incident, the Grandparents researched and purchased a harness and lead for the Student. The harness and lead were shown as demonstrative evidence during the hearing. NT 390-393. Photographs of the
    Student wearing the harness were entered into evidence at H-2. A printout of the harness manufacturer’s website was entered into evidence at S-18. 24.The harness consists of four strips of thick but flexible polypropylene that are sewn together with plastic clips and a metal ring. Each strip is approximately one inch wide. When secured, two strips wrap around the front of the Student’s torso. Two strips go from the lower torso strip over the Student’s shoulders. The torso strips and shoulder strips are sewn together in the front where they cross. The torso strips connect at the Student’s back with the plastic clips. The shoulder strips attach at the Student’s back to the metal ring. The torso strips and shoulder strips are sewn to each other in the back where they cross. An additional strip is formed into a loop at the Student’s back. The strips are size-adjustable. NT 390- 393, H-2, S-18. 25.The above description, although accurate, cannot describe the harness as well as the photographs at H-2. The photographs reveal that the harness is worn very much like a vest that fastens at the back. 26.The lead is a five-and-a-half-foot strip of the same material, with a metal clip at one end and a loop of material at the other. The metal clip fastens to the metal ring on the back of the harness. NT 390-393, H-2, S-18. 27.The loop on the back of the harness can be used to hold the Student, but the intention is to clip on the lead. The intended function of the harness and the lead is to prevent elopement. NT passim. 28.From December 2015 onward, the Grandparents sent the Student to school wearing the harness. The lead stayed at home. The harness was removed when the Student arrived at school. The harness was put back onto the Student shortly before the Student boarded the van back home. The Grandparents and the Student’s van aide worked together to clip the lead onto the harness as the Student exited the van. Stip. ¶ 34, See, e.g. NT 181. 29.The Student’s grandfather is typically not home when the Student returns from school. The Student’s grandmother uses a wheelchair for mobility. NT 178. The Grandparents frequently depend on a neighbor to secure the lead and help bring the Student into their home at the end of the school day. NT 178-179. 30.In February 2017, the IU revised the Student’s EI IEP by adding an accommodation that requires the Student to “wear [the] harness to and from the bus for safety.” Stip. ¶ 35, P-15 at 14, 22.

    Legal Principles

    The Burden of Proof

    The burden of proof, generally, consists of two elements: the burden of production and the burden of persuasion. In special education due process hearings, the burden of persuasion lies with the party seeking relief. Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 62 (2005); L.E. v. Ramsey Board of Education, 435 F.3d 384, 392 (3d Cir. 2006). The party seeking relief must prove entitlement to their demand by preponderant evidence, and cannot prevail if the evidence rests in equipoise. See N.M., ex rel. M.M. v. The School Dist. of Philadelphia, 394 Fed.Appx. 920, 922 (3rd Cir. 2010), citing Shore Reg’l High Sch. Bd. of Educ. v. P.S., 381 F.3d 194, 199 (3d Cir. 2004). In this case, the Grandparents are the party seeking relief and must bear the burden of persuasion.

    Transition to School-Age Programming

    The outcome of much of this case depends on the District’s obligation to implement the EI IEP, and the circumstances under which the District can change that document. The leading Third Circuit case concerning a child transitioning from early intervention to school-age services is Pardini v. Allegheny Intermediate Unit, cert denied Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), not an IEP. While transition from Part C to Part B services is intended to be smooth, the court recognized differences between the IFSP and IEP service models. Pardini 547 U.S. 1050, 126 S. Ct. 1646 (2006). Pardini considers the, 420 F.3d 181 (3d Cir. 2005) application of the IDEA’s “stay put” provision, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j), when a dispute arises during that transition. In this case, the parties agree that the Student’s EI IEP is “pendent” and so Pardini is not squarely on point. However, some aspects of Pardini are instructive.
    Pardini concerned a child who was transitioning from IDEA Part C services (for children
    from birth to age three) to IDEA Part B services (for children age three to age 21).
    Under IDEA Part C, children receive an
    , 420
    F.3d 181, 185-187 (3d Cir. 2005). In doing so, the court described IFSPs as programs
    targeting the developmental needs of children with disabilities, and IEPs as targeting the
    educational needs of students with disabilities. See, id at 188, 190.
    For clarity, IDEA Part C regulations are found at 34 C.F.R. § 303 et seq., and IDEA Part
    B regulations are found at 34 C.F.R. § 300 et seq. There is an intentional division
    between the two. See 34 C.F.R. § 300.2(2) (clarifying that IDEA Part C regulations do
    not apply to students receiving services under IDEA Part B). The regulation requiring
    IFSPs for children under Part C is 34 C.F.R. § 303.20.
    In this case, the Student is not transitioning from IDEA Part C to IDEA Part B. The
    Student turned six during the 2016-17 school year and now is almost seven. The
    transition in this case is a function of Pennsylvania law, not federal law. In
    Pennsylvania, under the Early Intervention Services System Act (“Act 212”), 11 Pa.
    Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 875-101 et. seq. (Purdon 2002), the Pennsylvania Department of
    Education (PDE) is responsible for providing special education for children age three to
    five. PDE discharges that duty through Pennsylvania’s intermediate units, which
    function as LEAs. After the school year in which a child turns six, responsibility shifts to
    local educational agencies (the District in this case).
    In sum, the Student was not transitioning from an IDEA Part C IFSP to an IDEA Part B
    IEP. Rather, the Student had an IEP from an IU, and is transitioning to an IEP from the
    District. This transition is happening because the Student turned six, and has aged out
    of early intervention under Pennsylvania law. As such, the Student is not moving from a
    “developmental” model to an “educational” model. The Student is already in an
    educational model, and is moving from one agency to another.

    Carry Forward of Obligations Under the EI IEP

    In February 2017, the Student was receiving services under IDEA Part B.
    Consequently, all IDEA requirements for evaluating the Student’s educational needs,
    and drafting an IEP to meet those needs, were in place. See 20 U.S.C. § 1414. There is
    no dispute about the appropriateness of the EI IEP. Both parties agree that the Student
    made progress under the EI IEP. Any changes to the EI IEP, therefore, are subject to
    the same procedures and standards as any other Part B IEP. This means that changes
    must be driven by data that is either collected through the IEP’s implementation or
    through an educational evaluation. See, e.g. 20 U.S.C. §§ 1414, 1415.
    The only wrinkle in this case is that the Student is moving from one agency (the IU) to
    another (the District). The IDEA includes rules about interstate and intrastate transfers.
    20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(C). The rule for transfers within the same state is 20 U.S.C. §
    1414(d)(2)(C)(i)(I). That section applies when a child “transfers school districts within
    the same academic year”. Id. In this case, the Student did not transfer during the same
    academic year, but the rule is instructive. When a child with an IEP transfers from one
    LEA to another, the new LEA “shall provide such child with a [FAPE], including services
    comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the
    parents until such time as the local educational agency adopts the previously held IEP
    or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that is consistent with Federal and
    State law”. Id.
    PDE publishes Basic Education Circulars (BECs), which provide PDE’s guidance on the
    implementation of laws, regulations and policies. BECs do not have the force of law, but
    do represent PDE’s official interpretation of laws and regulations. In 2003, PDE
    published a BEC titled “Transition of Preschool Children to School Age Programs”. The
    BEC was revised in 2009, and is still current. It is PDE’s official guidance to IUs, school
    districts, and charter schools for students transitioning from EI IEPs to school age IEPs.
    The BEC establishes clear procedures leading up to the transition, and considerations
    for the transition itself. The BEC lists five different considerations and options for
    parents and schools. First, the school can adopt the EI IEP. Second, parents and the
    school can agree to adopt the EI IEP with revisions. Third, parents and schools can
    decide whether a reevaluation is necessary, use existing data for the reevaluation, and
    then go through the regular IEP development process. Fourth, parents and schools can
    decide whether a reevaluation is necessary, use new testing for the reevaluation, and
    then go through the regular IEP development process. Fifth, parents and schools can
    decide to waive a reevaluation. In practice, the only option in the BEC for the receiving
    school that does not require parental consent is adoption of the EI IEP.
    Although the BEC does not have the force of law, I agree with PDE’s interpretation of
    the District’s obligations under the IDEA and Act 212. Both the IDEA and Act 212 are
    crafted to provide a smooth transition for children who are moving from EI IEPs to
    school-age IEPs. The IDEA’s rules for intrastate transfers within the same school year
    are a prime example of procedures that ensure the intended smoothness. As applied to
    this case, PDE has interpreted Pennsylvania regulations to require the same procedure
    when children age into school-age services. This interpretation fosters the purpose of
    the IDEA, and provides much needed clarity to both schools and parents. I adopt PDE’s
    interpretation as my own.
    An IEP must change only in response to data. Such data may reveal a change in a
    student’s needs, or indicate the efficacy of the special education that a student is
    receiving. See, e.g. 20 U.S.C. § 1415. Given the foregoing, I find as a matter of law that
    the District was obligated to either adopt the EI IEP, modify the EI IEP with the
    Grandparents’ consent, propose a reevaluation (either with or without new testing) and
    then develop a new IEP based on that reevaluation, or obtain the Grandparents’
    consent to waive a reevaluation.
    In this case, the District attempted the second option. It proposed a modified version of
    the Student’s EI IEP, and sought the Grandparents’ consent for the proposed changes.
    The Grandparents withheld consent and, ultimately, requested this hearing.
    Consequently, I will determine whether the evidence supports the changes in the
    District’s proposed IEP.7

    Parental Participation – Legal Standard

    The IDEA requires schools to afford parents an “opportunity … to participate in meetings with respect to the identification, evaluation, and educational placement of the child, and the provision of a free appropriate public education to such child…” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1). Similarly, parents must receive prior written notice whenever a school district proposes to change the educational placement of a child. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(3). The IDEA explicitly details the type of information that must be contained in such prior written notice. See, e.g. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(c)(1)(A)-(B), (E)-(F). This includes an explanation of why the change is proposed, what other options were considered and why those other options were rejected. Id. These participation requirements are in 7 Given the Grandparents’ burden, it is their obligation to show either that the evidence does not support the District’s proposed changes, or that no evidence supports the District’s proposed changes.
    addition to the procedural safeguards notice requirements found at 20 U.S.C. § 1415(c)(1)(C). Most cases concerning these provisions concern prior written notice. See Honing v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, (1988), P.V. v. Sch. Dist. of Phila., 289 F.R.D. 227 (E.D. Pa. 2013). In this case, there is no dispute that the Grandparents received prior written notice of the District’s proposed IEP.8 This case does not concern the Grandparents’ procedural right to notice, but rather concerns their substantive right to participate in IEP development. Parents play “a significant role in the IEP process”. Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 53 (2005). A major tenet of the IDEA is creation of a collaborative model for IEP creation. Collaboration can happen only when parents are given an opportunity to participate meaningfully in making decisions about their children’s education. Indeed, a denial of meaningful parental participation in IEP development may result in a substantive denial of FAPE. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(E); 34 C.F.R. § 300.513(a)(2). Both the Supreme Court and the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) have similarly concluded that parents are not just entitled to attend meetings and receive forms, but are entitled to substantive participation in the formulation of their child’s educational program. The Supreme Court has held that the IDEA requires the IEP Team, which includes the parents as members, to consider any “concerns” parents have “for enhancing the education of their child” when it formulates the IEP. Winkelman v. Parma City School District, 550 U.S. 516, 530 (2007). That holding is consistent with earlier guidance from OSEP, explaining that LEAs cannot unilaterally make placement decisions about eligible children to the exclusion of their parents. Letter to Veazey, 37 IDELR 10 (OSEP 2001). As such, parental participation does not exclusively concern the parents’ right to speak, but also concerns schools’ obligation to listen. LEAs have no obligation to accept every request the parents make, and may not adopt an inappropriate program only to quell insistent parents. Declining a parental request is not necessarily evidence that participation was denied. Rather, LEAs must seriously consider parental concerns and suggestions, and must have a rational, contemporaneous reason when rejecting parental input. Fortunately for Pennsylvania LEAs, the standardized NOREP provides an opportunity (and a literal space) for schools to say what they have considered and rejected, and why. 8 The Grandparents allege that the District failed to use transition forms, and that they were initially told that the District would “roll over” the EI IEP. However, there is no claim that the District failed to provide notice of its proposed IEP.

    Discussion

    Full-Time Autistic Support

    The District’s proposed IEP takes the Student from full-time autistic support to supplemental autistic support by reducing the percentage of time that the Student will spend in the AS classroom from 88.4% on average to 71%. In this case, these percentages and labels are misleading. Under the District’s proposal, the Student will spend more time per week in the AS classroom (25 hours per week, up from 22.5 or 23.5 hours per week). The “decrease” from full time to supplemental autistic support is the result of a larger total amount of autistic support making up a smaller percentage of a longer educational program. More importantly, special education is not a place. Special education is the specially- designed instruction (SDI) and related services that the Student receives, pursuant to an IEP, to achieve the goals written into that IEP. See 20 U.S.C. § 1401(29). The Student receives special education whenever the Student receives SDIs and related services, not just when the Student is physically within the AS classroom. The Grandparents are technically correct that the District proposal changes the Student’s placement from full-time to supplemental autistic support. The Grandparents are also correct that no evaluation specifically or explicitly recommends that change. This technical argument fails, however, when examining the substance of the District’s proposal. The District proposes more time in an AS classroom, not less. More importantly, the District proposes more verbal behavior instruction (that is, more of the actual special education that the Student will receive) not less. I reject the Grandparents’ argument that the District unilaterally proposed a reduction in the Student’s special education because the opposite is true.

    Transition

    The District’s proposal increases the amount of time that the Student will spend in the AS classroom. However, the District’s proposal also increases the amount of time that the Student will spend with typically-developing peers in regular education classrooms. The Grandparents’ objection to this inclusion should not be conflated with their objection to the change in the Student’s status from full-time to supplemental autistic support. This objection concerns the Student’s ability to transition into more regular education classes.9 9 The Grandparents agree that it is appropriate to include the Student in recess with the assistance of a TSS or an aide assigned by the District.
    Both parties agree, at least implicitly, that the Student is expected to have difficulty attending regular education classes, particularly specials.10 There is no good, systematic data establishing the Student’s baseline level of tolerance for regular education classes, even though the Student has been included in a Head Start classroom for 30 minutes per day, 2 to 3 days per week, since February 2017. In the absence of this data, the District proposes to place the Student in regular education for specials with the assistance of a District-provided aide. Under the proposed IEP, the aide will monitor the Student, and remove the Student if the Student becomes frustrated. The Grandparents agree with inclusion as a goal. The Grandparents are concerned that the Student’s aide may not perceive the Student’s frustration, and may not remove the Student at the right time. The Grandparents argue that such an oversight will create a negative association with regular education classes for the Student, which will hinder the ultimate goal of inclusion. No evidence was presented in support of this hypothesis other than the presentation of the hypothesis itself through the Grandparents’ testimony. The hypothetical negative consequences of the District’s proposal do not render the proposal inappropriate. However, other evidence was presented to establish that the District’s proposal is out of line with the Student’s transition needs. That evidence, not the Grandparent’s unsubstantiated hypothesis, renders the District’s proposal inappropriate regarding transition. Evidence in this case, mostly presented in the form of testimony, unambiguously demonstrates that the District and the Grandparents both agree that the Student requires a slow, methodical approach to transition into some regular education classes. In the words of District personnel, it is not the District’s intention to “just throw [the Student] to the wolves”. NT at 624. Rather, it is the District’s intention to bring the Student to regular education classes for short periods of time, gauge the Student’s ability to tolerate that setting, and then very gradually increase the amount of time that the Student spends in regular education, as guided both by data and insights from the Student’s aide and TSS. See, e.g. NT 580, 624. This testimony was highly credible, and is consistent with the type of transition that the Grandparents want. It is unfortunate that this transition is nowhere in the District’s proposed IEP. District personnel testified credibly that the Student requires transition services that are not in the District’s proposed IEP. More specifically, accepting testimony from District personnel, the District and the Grandparents both agree that the Student should be exposed to regular education classes a little at a time, and with the assistance of an 10 Testimony from some District witnesses suggests a belief that the Student is not expected to have trouble in regular education classes because there is no data to suggest that the Student will have trouble. This sort of testimony was couched in the language of presumed competency, a pedagogical philosophy that starts with the assumption that children with disabilities are capable in the absence of evidence to the contrary. This testimony was undermined by other District witnesses who, as described herein, advanced a more cautious approach to transition.
    aide, TSS, or both. The District and the Grandparents both agree that the Student’s tolerance for this minimal exposure should be assessed and documented, creating data. The District and Grandparents both agree that this data should be used to establish a baseline for the Student’s ability to attend regular education classes. The District and Grandparents both agree that this data should also be used when slowly increasing the Student’s time in regular education. This plan is not drafted into the Student’s IEP. The proposed IEP is the District’s proposal. The things that the District says it will do above and beyond the proposed IEP are not the District’s proposal. My task is to assess the appropriateness of the IEP that the District offered. That IEP does not appropriately address the Student’s transition needs. Both parties agree that the Student has significant transition needs. Both parties agree about how those needs must be addressed. That agreement must be reflected in the Student’s IEP.11 In reaching this conclusion, I acknowledge that an IEP need not dictate every moment of a child’s day. Nothing herein is intended to suggest that the IEP spell out in detail how many minutes the Student will spend in regular education classes each moment of the school year. I also acknowledge that best teaching practices, things that good teachers do for all students, do not necessarily have to be drafted into a child’s IEP. But when a transition program that requires data collection and analysis is necessary for the provision of FAPE, that transition program must be reflected in the IEP. In reaching this conclusion, I also acknowledge some discrepancy in case law about how I may consider evidence beyond the four corners of the IEP. The Second Circuit has rejected a rigid four corners rule, and permits testimony “that explains or justifies the services listed in the IEP”. R.E. v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ., 694 F.3d 167, 186 (2d Cir. 2012). The Third Circuit has not definitively resolved the issue, but District Courts within the Third Circuit “have found the R.E. reasoning persuasive”. Jalen Z. v. Sch. Dist. of Phila., 104 F. Supp. 3d 660, 677 (E.D. Pa. 2015)(citing T.E. v. Cumberland Valley Sch. Dist., No. 13-643, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1471, 2014 WL 47340, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Jan. 7, 2014)). The District’s evidence in this case would not change the outcome even under the Second Circuit’s permissive standard. Hypothetical examples from the same case are instructive: For example, if an IEP states that a specific teaching method will be used to instruct a student, the school district may introduce testimony at the subsequent hearing to describe that teaching method and explain why it was appropriate for the student. The district, however, may not introduce 11 Often, it is not helpful to send an issue back to an IEP team, when the IEP team’s inability to resolve that issue was the impetus of the due process hearing. In this case, the parties agree about the Student’s transition needs. That agreement is very easily reduced to an IEP goal. The parties’ general agreement makes me confident that the IEP team will be able to collaboratively draft an appropriate transition goal.
    testimony that a different teaching method, not mentioned in the IEP, would have been used. Similarly, if a student is offered a staffing ratio of 6:1:1, a school district may introduce evidence explaining how this structure operates and why it is appropriate. It may not introduce evidence that modifies this staffing ratio (such as testimony from a teacher that he would have provided extensive 1:1 instruction to the student). R.E. v. N.Y.C. Dep’t of Educ., 694 F.3d 167, 186-87 (2d Cir. 2012). Under the Second Circuit standard, an LEA may present evidence from beyond the IEP to explain something in the IEP. An LEA may not, however, present evidence from beyond the IEP to show that it would do something that is not in the IEP at all. In this case, the transition services that the District says it will provide are an example of the latter.

    Co-Treatment

    The Grandparents are correct that an independent evaluation recommended a co- treatment model for OT and SL/T, and that the IU accepted that recommendation and provided a 15-minute per week co-treatment session, starting in February 2017. The Grandparents are also correct that no evaluation after February 2017 assesses the effectiveness of co-treatment in the school setting, or recommends discontinuation of co-treatment in the school setting. Above, when considering the change from full-time to supplemental autistic support, nearly identical factors were unavailing once the District’s proposed IEP was carefully examined. The Grandparents objected to an apparent reduction in AS support but, in fact, the District had proposed to increase AS support. This aspect of the proposed IEP is different. Here, the District is truly proposing a discontinuation of services. The proposed IEP eliminates the OT and SL/T co-treatment session. Some testimony suggests that the OT and SL/T co-treatment sessions were not effective in the school setting, or that those sessions had a negative impact upon the Student. I have no reason to doubt this testimony. I am certain that it accurately reflects the insight and opinions of skilled therapists (the same therapists who served the Student during the 2016-17 school year, a period during which both parties agree that the Student made considerable progress). Even so, given the legal standard that applies when schools wish to change a student’s IEP unilaterally over parental objection (described above), I cannot substitute the informed opinions of therapists for objective data. To be clear, the Grandparents did not present evidence proving that the OT and SL/T co-treatment session is necessary for the provision of FAPE. The evaluation report recommending co-treatment does not speak to the Student’s needs in the school setting. If the Student was not already receiving co-treatment, I would not order the District to provide it. The question I must answer, however, is not whether co-treatment is necessary for the provision of FAPE, but rather whether it is appropriate to remove co-treatment from the Student’s IEP. The Grandparents have satisfied their burden by
    showing the District’s decision to remove co-treatment was not based on an evaluation or objective data. Consequently, co-treatment must remain in the IEP until data indicates that it can be removed.12

    The Harness

    The most contentious issue between the parties is use of a harness for the Student’s transportation to and from school. Testimony from District personnel on this issue, particularly from the District’s Supervisor of Special Education, revealed that the District’s refusal to place the harness onto the Student is a matter of dogma, and has nothing to do with consideration of the Student’s needs. At the first session of this hearing, District personnel described the harness as a restraint. By the second day of the hearing, District personnel had backed off this position, saying instead that the harness could be used to restrain the Student. The initial statement is outright false. The harness itself restricts the Student’s movement no more than a shirt. The subsequent statement is true, but only in the most literal way. The whole point of the harness is to prevent the Student’s elopement. However, the harness serves that function only when used with the lead. Without the lead, the harness is little more than a sturdy vest.13 The lead itself never comes to school. Removing the harness from the Student when the Student arrives at school, and placing the harness onto the Student before the Student boards the van home does not constitute a restraint of any kind. In the end, the District does not argue that the harness must be removed because it is a restraint. Rather, the District argues that the harness is only for the Grandparents’ benefit, and not for the Student’s benefit. I reject this argument because transportation is a related service under the IDEA, and unsafe transportation cannot be appropriate. The Grandparents’ ability to physically control the Student as the Student exits the school van is a factor in this analysis. Similarly, students who are protected by the IDEA are also protected by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., and by Title 22, Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania Code (Chapter 15), 22 Pa. Code § 15 et seq. If the Student’s disability interferes with the Student’s ability to come to school, and if a reasonable accommodation enables the Student’s attendance, that accommodation is necessary under Section 504 and Chapter 15, even if it is not a mandatory component of FAPE under the IDEA. The question before me, however, is not whether the harness is a restraint, and is not whether the Student can be safely transported without the harness. The question is whether the District can remove the harness from the Student’s IEP. The analysis is 12 The ultimate decision about if or when to remove co-treatment from the IEP must be made by the IEP team. The team may determine what data to use in its decision- making process. 13 The District’s insistence on calling the lead a “leash” is indicative of the attitude of its personnel. The term, in the context of this case, is deliberately pejorative.
    identical to the analysis regarding co-treatment. There is a dearth of evidence concerning the Student’s need for a harness. What little evidence there is, however, suggests that the Student has not eloped during transportation since the Student started using the harness, and that the Student is starting to accept safe behaviors, like holding hands. That same evidence also suggests that the harness has become a signal to the Student to use safe behavior. As with the evidence regarding co-treatment, none of this evidence comes from an evaluation or constitutes objective data supporting a discontinuation of IEP services. I cannot permit subjective opinions, no matter how well informed, to take the place of a thorough evaluation or objective data. The harness must remain in the Student’s IEP until an evaluation or data suggests that it is appropriate to remove this accommodation.14

    Parental Participation – Discussion

    The Grandparents were denied an opportunity to meaningfully participate in the development of the Student’s IEP. The District refused to consider the Grandparents’ input regarding co-treatment and the harness. Particularly regarding the harness, the District did not make an evidence-based decision contrary to the Grandparents’ wishes. Rather, District personnel allowed a visceral negative reaction to the thought of a child on a leash subsume what should have been a collaborative decision-making process. Testimony from District personnel revealed an absolute disinterest in any information supporting the Grandparents’ position, and an unequivocal belief that the harness is somehow inappropriate per se. It is theoretically possible that some types of parental input warrant no serious consideration. For example, if parents asked a school to include corporal punishment in a student’s IEP, the school could safely ignore that input (mandatory reporting notwithstanding). In this case, the Grandparents asked the District to continue an accommodation that was already drafted into the Student’s EI IEP, and that had been used successfully for a significant period of time. The District’s staunch refusal to consider the Grandparents’ input ultimately caused the District to overlook an important question: does data suggest a change to the Student’s IEP? This is true not only for the harness, but also for the proposed discontinuation of the co-treatment session. The Grandparents are entitled to declaratory judgement on this issue.

    Conclusion

    Preponderant evidence supports most of the Grandparents’ claims. Regarding the harness and co-treatment, the Grandparents established that the District’s decision to remove services from the Student’s IEP was not evidence based. Regarding transition, the Grandparents established that the District’s proposed IEP does not meet the 14 As with co-treatment, the ultimate decision about if or when to remove the harness from the IEP must be made by the IEP team. The team may determine what data to use in its decision-making process.
    Student’s needs, because it does not include the type of transition plan that both parties agree that the Student requires. Regarding the change from full-time to supplemental autistic support, the Grandparents did not establish that the District unilaterally proposed a reduction in service. The District’s proposed IEP increases the amount of autistic support that the Student will receive. An order consistent with the foregoing follows.

    ORDER

    Now, September 11, 2017, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:
    1. Within15schooldaysofthisOrder,theStudent’sIEPteamshallreconvene,and shall revise the Student’s IEP as follows:
      1. TheIEPteamshalldraftatransitionplanthatisconsistentwiththe accompanying Decision, and shall incorporate that transition plan into the Student’s IEP.
      2. TheIEPteamshallincorporateaSpeechandLanguageTherapyand Occupational Therapy co-treatment session into the Student’s IEP. The co-treatment session shall be 15 minutes per week, unless the IEP team agrees otherwise.
      3. The IEP team shall incorporate use of the harness into the Student’s IEP. The task of removing the harness upon the Student’s arrival at school, and securing the harness as the Student leaves school may be completed by the Student’s TSS, but must be completed by District personnel if the TSS is not available.
    2. Nothinginthisdecisionprecludesthepartiesfromcollectingdataorconducting additional assessments of the Student’s needs regarding transition, co-treatment, or the harness. Nothing in this decision precludes the parties from revising the Student’s IEP in response to such data.
    3. TheDistrictviolatedtheGrandparents’rightundertheIDEAtomeaningful parental participation during the development of the proposed IEP.
    It is FURTHER ORDERED that any claim not specifically addressed in this order is DENIED and DISMISSED.

    /s/ Brian Jason Ford

    HEARING OFFICER

    A-P-Avon-Grove-ODRNo-19455-17-18
  • People-First Language

    people first language

    people first language“People-first language” – What it people-first language and why is people-first language important to people with disabilities.

    One of the biggest challenges in the lives of people with disabilities is the fact that they are often perceived as being different, and might feel labeled as such by society. People-first language is a particular type of linguistic prescription that was developed in order to avoid dehumanizing people affected by various disabilities, as well as to raise awareness about proper etiquette when dealing with individuals with disabilities.
    People-first language is a particular type of linguistic prescription that was developed in order to avoid dehumanizing people affected by various disabilities, as well as to raise awareness about proper etiquette when dealing with individuals with disabilities.
    The first paragraph above exemplifies the main concepts of People-First language. In order to highlight individuality and put less emphasis on the actual disability, the concept is to use a positive sentence structure that names the person first and the condition second. In the paragraph above, for instance, the article talks about “individuals with disabilities” and “people with disabilities” instead of saying “disabled people.”
    WRONGRIGHT
    disabled peoplepeople with disabilities
    autistic kidchild with autism
    bad kidschildren with behavioral deficits
    special ed kidchild receives special education supports and services
    In the most “organic” approach to the syntax of the English language, it is more logical and correct to actually put an adjective before a noun: you would say “The American People” rather than “The People of America,” which might sound dramatic and emphatic in a political speech, but a little goofy in your day-to-day talk. The people-first language defies this particular syntax principle of the English language in order to focus on the individuality of people affected by disabilities. People-first language isn’t just for those who are disabled. It is often used to address racial/ethnic definitions. For instance, the term “People of Color” is very widespread when denoting a person that isn’t of White/Caucasian descent. This expression originated in the world of politics and social justice, but it became widespread, particularly throughout North America. Ever since its inception in 1988, the people-first language became widespread in the United States and in virtually all other English-speaking countries in the world, such as Great Britain, (parts of) Canada and Australia, among others. Also dubbed “person-first language”, the reason why such a system has been adopted is to prevent preconceptions from affecting the lives of those affected by issues.

    “Sapir-Whorf” hypothesis

    The so-called “Sapir-Whorf” hypothesis is a notion that the way we use language can and will affect the way we perceive the world. If we focus on humanizing people through a linguistic approach such as the “people-first” language, chances are, public perception might be affected for the better. A people first approach to language has made a difference in the lives of many people, including minorities and other groups throughout the world. Next time you hear someone saying something like “autistic kid” gently correct them and explain why child with autism sounds so much better.  
  • Protecting your Kids from Cyberbullying

    protecting kids cyberbullying

    instagram cyber bullyingProtecting your Kids from Cyberbullying

    In today’s world, spending time on social media websites is a part of the natural fabric of society. This is particularly true for the younger generation, who seem to love using the web to keep in touch with their friends and to interact with the people they know. According to information gathered by the Global Web Index, young people are leading the market in social media use. The daily average of social media consumption has risen 45 minutes since 2012 to the current daily average of 2 hours and 15 minutes per day. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out Social media websites can have a strong emotional impact on anyone, let alone a kid or a teenager. As you might imagine, young people are very susceptible to experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression, which might be exacerbated by some of the negative sides of social networking. The so-called “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) might make headlines as a fun meme these days, but it stems from a genuine sensation of anxiety that occurs when comparing one’s life through the scope of social media, to your own. In other words, everyone’s life looks absolutely amazing when filtered out through the perspective of their social media feeds, and this might cause some to feel like they don’t have it as good. Cyberbullying Another of the most prominent issues with social networking is definitely cyberbullying. Although often overlooked, cyberbullying can have an incredibly negative impact on the lives of kids and teenagers alike. Not only can it foster anxiety and depression, but it can also lead to more serious consequences, such as self-harm or suicide.

    What exactly is cyberbullying?

    Essentially cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through digital technology. Bullies would use social media platforms and other means to ridicule, slander, harass or even threaten and stalk victims. Considering that most kids have mobile phones and are able to connect to the internet practically any time, cyberbullying can really reach them anywhere, including in school, and in some cases, cyberbullies can quickly spread rumors or slandering comments through the entire social circle of a person, fostering more bullying or causing major embarrassment.

    Cyberbullying in School

    Due to the sweeping scope of cyberbullying, it is hard to separate the effect cyberbullying has on a child at home vs. the effect cyberbullying has on a child’s ability to learn in school. With this in mind, it is important that schools take their part in preventing and stopping cyberbullying.

    What can you do to protect your children from cyberbullying?

    Here are a few suggestions!
    1. Keep them informed – Most of the pain from any form of bullying comes from a simple fact that kids will be wondering…” why are they doing this to me? why me?”. Being picked on without understanding why causes confusion and loss of confidence. It is important to teach kids about bullying, make them understand what it is and why it happens. Some people might bully or harass others without even being aware of it. Sometimes, children (or adults) might not realize that what they are doing is hurtful, and they might simply not understand digital communication etiquette. It is important for parents and educators to teach children positive interaction techniques and to recognize the consequences of their actions.
    2. Look for changes in your child’s mood or attitude – Is your child afraid or unwilling to go to school? This could be a sign that they may be the target of cyberbullying. If you see changes in your child’s affect, be vigilant of possible cyberbullying.
    3. Stalk your child’s social media – Yea, we said it. Privacy is important, but so is ensuring your child’s wellbeing. Keep an eye on what your child is doing.

    Taking action against cyberbullying

    It’s very important to take action to educate the community about the issue of cyberbullying. Many schools and governmental institutions are starting to take the problem seriously. In some US states or country, cyberbullying is considered a crime, and it might meet punishment according to the law. Even social media websites are taking action to prevent and stop bullying, protecting users from the negative impact of the phenomenon. Instagram, for example, managed to implement new features that aim to reduce abusive comments on the app. The photo-sharing social platform uses AI tools, keyword filters and algorithms to identify abusive comments and block them out. Even Facebook, one of the most popular social media platform, is launching a campaign against cyberbullying with the support of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

    Final Thought

    If you feel as though your child might be the victim of cyberbullying, it might be wise to contact an education lawyer. More often than not the bullies are classmates and the cyberbullying will have an impact on your child’s ability to learn in school.  
  • Shortage of Special Education Teachers

    shortage of special education teachers

    What’s going on with the shortage of special education teachers?

    In many states, such as Oklahoma, there is a shortage of special education teachers. Tulsa World reports that “Special education teachers have become so scarce that districts face fierce competition to find and keep good candidates and sometimes leave open positions unfilled.” Job applicants are few and far between. For those that do apply, don’t be surprised if you are called in for an interview the very next day. That was the case for Melissa Parks, who was brought in for an interview the day after Superintendent Shelley Arrott received notice that Parks applied for a special education teaching position. Ms. Parks got the job (and accepted the job over 7 other offers from competing schools). Parks is now able to put her special education certification to good use. The shortage of special education teachers being seen in Oklahoma is not just a local problem. Nationally we aren’t seeing special education positions attracting enough qualified talent. Some say poor teaching conditions and low salaries are the cause of this trend, but is it something else? Are younger students, middle and high school, not exposed to the idea of a profession in special education? Is the special education field not appropriately marketing itself to would be candidates? When it comes to a profession where you can earn a solid living, with benefits, while helping others in need on a daily basis, few check all of the boxes that being a special education teacher can check off.

    How are schools dealing with the shortage of special education teachers?

    Schools are relying more and more on temporary (both short and long-term) substitutes to fill the role of full-time special education teachers. Hiring paraprofessionals, or classroom assistants, can also relieve the burden that some special education teachers report feeling. Paraprofessionals are generally employed for minimum wage, or slightly more, and often work as part-time employees without full-time benefits.

    What’s the risk of having a shortage of special education teachers?

    The risk we see in the shortage of special education teachers is the possibility for classrooms to become overcrowded and understaffed. Each student that receives special education supports and services receives those services through an individualized education program (IEP). Each student’s IEP is unique to them and must be implemented accordingly. Each teacher is expected to read and be familiar with their student’s IEP. The IEP is the “roadmap” to that child’s education. The lower the student to teacher ratio, arguably, the more likely each student’s IEP will be implemented with fidelity.

    What can you do?

    If you are feeling the impact of an understaffed school and feel as though your child may be suffering as a result, it may be wise to contact an education lawyer or advocate for a consultation. When required, the provision of special education services are governed by federal law, and a shortage of special education teachers is no excuse for the delivery of an inappropriate education.    
  • AB. vs. Pleasant Valley School District

    This is a redacted version of the original decision. Select details have been removed from the decision to preserve anonymity of the student. The redactions do not affect the substance of the document.

    PENNSYLVANIA SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

    DECISION

    Child’s Name : A . B .
    Date of Birth :
    [redacted]
    CLOSED HEARING
    ODR File 18366 16 17
    Dates of Hearing :
    5/2/17, 5/3/17, 7/25/17, 7/31/17
    Parent(s) :
    [redacted]
    Heather M. Hulse, Esquire, M cAndrews Law Offices, P. C.,
    404 North Washington Avenue, Suite 310,
    Scranton, PA 18503
    Counsel for Parents
    School District:
    Pleasant Valley School District, 2233 Route 115,
    Brodheadsville, PA 18322
    Glenna M. Hazeltine, Esquire , King Sp ry Herman Freund & Faul LLC, One West Broad Street, Suite 700,
    Bethlehem, PA 18018 Counsel for the Local Educational Agency
    Date of Decision :
    9/16/17
    Hearing Officer :

    Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.

    INTRODUCTION

    The student (hereafter Student)1 is a beyond-teenaged young adult who previously resided in and attended the Pleasant Valley School District (District). Prior to graduation, Student was eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 on the bases of Autism, Intellectual Disability, and a Speech/Language Impairment. Adult Training Facility (ATF) for vocational programming several days each week. s filed the instant due process complaint against the District in October 2016, asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.3 The case proceeded to a due process hearing that was continued for a variety of unavoidable reasons, and ultimately convened over four sessions.4 The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to and varied needs throughout the time period in question, and that a compensatory remedy was warranted. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student and that no relief was due. For the reasons set forth below, the and denied in part. 1 , and other potentially identifiable information, are not used in the body of this decision. 2 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482. The federal regulations implementing the IDEA are codified in 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.1 300. 818. The applicable Pennsylvania regulations are set forth in 22 Pa. Code §§ 14.101 14.163 (Chapter 14). 3 29 U.S.C. § 794. 4 References to the record throughout this decision will be to the Notes of Testimony (N.T.), Parent Exhibits (P-) followed by the exhibit number, School District Exhibits (S-) followed by the exhibit number, and Hearing Officer Exhibits (HO-) followed by the exhibit number. Citation to the hearing transcript from the May 2015 session will be to S-47 followed by the exhibit page number and then the transcript page number (e.g., S-47 p. 3 at 12). References to Parents in the plural will be made where it appears that one was acting on behalf of both, and to the singular period in question.

    PROCEDURAL HISTORY

    A. The Parents previously filed a Due Process Complaint against the District in 2015, proceeding pro se, and an initial hearing session convened on May 5, 2015. (S-47) B. The Parents subsequently retained counsel, and the parties reached an agreement to conduct independent evaluations and to toll the filing date to late July 2013. (S-19 p. 2, S-25 p. 1, S-26 p. 2) C. The Parents filed the instant Complaint in October 2016. (S-25) D. any remedy, to the period of late July 2013 to the end of the 2015-16 school year. The Parents did not attempt to raise claims that pre-dated July 2013, but did seek relief consistent with G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District Authority, 802 F.3d 601, 625 (3d Cir. 2015). This hearing officer concluded that G.L. did apply to this case, noting that the Complaint was filed approximately one year after G.L. was decided by the Third Circuit. (N.T. 410-12, 708-10; HO-2) E. The Parents offered a number of exhibits to support their suggested remedy under G.L., virtually all of which were education records of Student for the period of time that Student was enrolled in the District prior to the fall of 2012. The District objected to admission of those documents, and this hearing officer reserved ruling on the Parent exhibits. (N.T. 815-20) The admission of those exhibits is discussed infra.

    ISSUES

    1. Whether the educational program developed and implemented for unique needs between late July 2013 and the end of the 2015-16 school year; and 2. If the educational program was not appropriate for Student, whether Student should be awarded compensatory education and, if so, in what form and amount?

    FINDINGS OF FACT

    1. Student is a beyond-teenaged young adult. During the time period in question, Student attended school in the District and was eligible for special education under the IDEA classifications of Autism, Intellectual Disability, and Speech/Language Impairment. Student was also a protected handicapped Student under Section 504 and Chapter 15 throughout that period of time. (N.T. 31-32; S-1, S-10) 2. Student attended school in the District since entry into public school at the start of the 2000-01 school year. (S-1 p. 1) 3. Student tends to isolate self from noisy environments, sometimes returning on Student’s own or with prompting. In the classroom, Student would take a break to calm self at those times. Student would likely not do well with vocational pursuits in a noisy environment. (N.T. 324-25, 426, 720-21; S-4 p. 4) 4. Student exhibited anxiety at school on occasion, usually over something involving the family including the Parent attending an IEP meeting. When anxiety was manifested, Student could sometimes be easily redirected and required more prompting at other times. (N.T. 348-49, 422, 426, 545-46, 747-48) 5. Student is a better auditory learner than a visual learner. (N.T. 589) 6. Student needs to continue to practice and expressive language skills, including pragmatic language, due to Student’s unique needs. (N.T. 206 – 07) 7. Student needs continued repetition and practice of academic skills in order to maintain those skills. (N.T. 464, 693; S-1) 8. Student’s attendance impacted Student’s ability to learn and maintain skills. (N.T. 185 – 87, 283 – 84, 344, 368, 379, 436, 680; S – 3, S – 6, S – 12 ) 9. When a student misses a significant number of school days, the District convenes a meeting to develop a truancy elimination plan and also recommends a psychiatric evaluation. (N.T. 333-34) 10. The District did not develop a truancy elimination plan for Student. (N.T. 380) 11. Student graduated after the 2015 – 16 school year concluded and the District delivered Student’s diploma to the home. Student did not attend any educational program since that time. (N.T. 32 – 34, 680, 742 – 43, 731, 739) 12. The Parents want Student to learn a trade in order to be employable and to be self- sufficient. (N.T. 737) 13. Student would need support in order to function in a community work setting. (N.T. 250- 51, 258-59, 443, 547-48) EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND 14. The District conducted an evaluation of Student and issued a Reevaluation Report (RR) in November 2012. (N.T. 42; S-1) 15. The District school psychologist understood that the purpose of the November 2012 RR was to determine whether Student was making progress within the curriculum as well as toward IEP goals. (N.T. 55) 16. Parent input into the November 2012 RR reflected concerns that Student was regressing despite having the ability to retain information, and that Student isolated self. (S-1 p. 2) 17. Student was cooperative with the administration of cognitive assessment for the 2012 RR, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV). Student attained a Full Scale IQ score (47) in the extremely low range (< 0.1 percentile) with all Index scores also in the extremely low range. (S-1 p. 2) 18. The District school psychologist obtained teacher behavior (Adaptive Behavior Assessment System Second Edition (ABAS-II)) for the 2012 RR. Student reportedly exhibited extremely low adaptive behavior with the exception of School Living (below average range). No Parent ABAS-II rating scales were obtained because the District was looking at performance in the school environment. (N.T. 48, 64; S-1 pp. 2-3) 19. The District school psychologist did not conduct any academic achievement assessment for the 2012 RR but obtained curriculum-based assessments to determine how Student was performing within the curriculum. Student reportedly was at an instructional second grade level in reading comprehension and mathematics skills. (N.T. 48, 55-56; S-1 p. 3) 20. The District school psychologist did not observe Student in the classroom for the 2012 RR. She did not find any or social functioning. (N.T. 50, 57, 60, 62, 68-69; S-1) 21. Teacher input into the 2012 RR reflected that Student was provided small group reading, language arts, and mathematics instruction in the Life Skills classroom. Student required prompting and redirection to maintain focus and attention and follow directions throughout the school day, especially when presented with non-preferred tasks. Student also needed continued repetition and practice in order to maintain skills. The classroom incentive program was reportedly successful for Student. (S-1) 22. Teachers also reported that Student participated in vocational instruction and experiences at school, demonstrating difficulty with multi-step directions especially with unfamiliar tasks. Student learned new vocational skills with direct instruction and prompting until a task became familiar. (S-1) 23. Teacher input also reflected that Student engaged socially with peers and adults, but that there were times that Student would choose to draw quietly alone during free time. (S-1 p. 4) 24. Speech/language input into the 2012 RR included results of the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test Fourth Edition (EOWPVT) and the Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test Fourth Edition (ROWPVT). Student was cooperative with those tests, attaining scores at the 1st percentile on the EOWPVT and below the 1st percentile on the ROWVT. Continuation of speech/language therapy twice per six-day cycle was recommended. (S-1 p. 5) 25. The November 2012 RR identified Student as eligible for special education on the bases of Autism, Intellectual Disability, and a Speech or Language Impairment. Recommendations included continuation of small group instruction and a functional curriculum, community-based instruction, and prompts for focus. (S-1) 26. The District school psychologist who issued the November 2012 RR did not meet with the Parents to review its results. (N.T. 52) 27. An Individualized Education Program (IEP) was developed in early December 2012 after the RR. The Parents and Student did not attend this meeting. (S-2) 28. At the time of the December 2012 IEP, Student was demonstrating reading comprehension and reading accuracy skills on a Qualitative Reading Inventory (QRI) at the same level as the previous school year, reflecting a second grade instructional reading level. (S-2 pp. 9-10) 29. At the time of the December 2012 IEP, Student demonstrated the ability to provide written demographic information when requested, but needed prompts and further practice in completing forms requiring such information. Student at that time indicated an interest in employment in retail or personal service. (S-2 p. 11) 30. The December 2012 IEP noted needs with respect to semantic and pragmatic language; reading comprehension; functional mathematics skills; attention and focus; following directions containing more than one step; continued development of safety awareness; and vocational skills (completing forms/applications, self-advocacy, and exploring vocational opportunities). (S-2 p. 14) 31. Transition services in the December 2012 IEP noted goals for supported employment opportunities but not post-secondary education, and supported living. Activities toward the employment goal included job site instruction for school- and community-based tasks and completion of a career interest survey. Student had already completed an application with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Activities toward the supported living goal included instruction in activities of daily living. (S-2) 32. The December 2012 IEP provided annual goals and short term objectives in functional mathematics skills (telling time, counting money and determining amounts of purchase and change, solving word problems using addition, subtraction or money, using fractions for measuring recipe ingredients, and comparing quantities and amounts); reading comprehension at a third grade level other comprehension questions, using comprehension strategies) and reading fluency and accuracy; expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language (identifying items within categories, labeling items/events, conversational turns with prompting); vocational skills (identifying jobs of interest, completing applications with demographic information, and following multi-step directions and focusing attention); and activities of daily living (following multi-step directions and focusing attention, danger awareness). (S-2) 33. Program modifications/items of specially designed instruction in the December 2012 IEP were for small group reading instruction, a modified curriculum focused on key concepts, a functional academic curriculum, materials read to and reviewed with Student, test accommodations and modifications, repeated and simplified directions, additional processing time, presentation of new vocabulary both visually and auditorally, prompts and assistance for written tasks, prompts for focus and task completion, use of a calculator, positive reinforcement, community-based instruction, opportunities for practice and repetition of skills, and communication with the Parents. Small group speech/language support and daily transportation were related services. (S-2) 34. Student was determined to be not eligible for Extended School Year (ESY) services program was for life skills for all academic, daily living, and vocational instruction in addition to speech/language support. The Parents approved the accompanying Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP). (S-2) 35. Over the course of the 2012 – 13 school year, Student was deemed to have made moderate progress on all of the IEP go als and objectives. By the fourth quarter, the progress report reflected Student’s absences as impacting Student’s progress with reading. (S – 3) 36. The District uses a subjective rating scale for reporting progress on IEP goals and objectives. Teachers can give two numbers if a student is between the choices. (N.T. 199, 205-06, 664-65) 37. At the end of the 2012-13 school year, the Parent and District discussed Student graduating, and the parties communicated with OVR. The District provided contact information for OVR and made an initial contact for Student, but the Parent needed to handle the registration. The Parent then arranged for Student to be provided some vocational services outside of the District through OVR. In addition, OVR conducted a community-based work assessment in July 2013, and at that time Student reportedly exhibited difficulty with multi-step directions and tasks and maintaining focus and attention, and resisted redirection. (N.T. 365-66, 433, 724-25, 760, 775-76; S-4, S-47 p.37 at 145-47) 38. Student believed Student would graduate at the end of the 2012-13 school year and did not want to return to school in the fall of 2013. (N.T. 713-14) 2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR 39. Student’s IEP team met in October 2013 to develop a new IEP. The Parent and Student attended the meeting. (S – 5) 40. In September 2013, Student obtained scores on the EOWPVT and ROWPVT that were identical to the scores from September 2012 (at and below the 1st percentile, respectively). (S-5 p. 11) 41. In September 2013, Student remained at a second grade instructional reading level, making a slight increase in word accuracy and comprehension and a slight decrease in fluency from September 2012. (S-5 p. 11) 42. The October 2013 IEP noted needs with respect to semantic and pragmatic language; reading comprehension; functional mathematics skills; attention and focus; following directions containing more than one step; continued development of safety awareness; and vocational skills (completing forms/applications, self-advocacy, and exploring vocational opportunities). (S-5) 43. Transition services in the October 2013 IEP noted goals for supported employment opportunities (with improvement of job skills) and supported living. Activities toward the employment goal included attendance at the ATF two days per week, completion of an interest inventory and career survey, and prompting for interpersonal skills with peers. Activities toward the supported living goal included instruction in activities of daily living. (S-5) 44. The October 2013 IEP provided annual goals and short term objectives in functional mathematics skills (telling time, counting money and determining amounts of purchase and change, solving word problems using addition, subtraction, or money, and linear measurement); reading comprehension at a third grade level (identifying story elements, answering comprehension questions, using comprehension strategies) and reading fluency and accuracy; expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language (identifying items within categories, labeling items/events, conversational turns with prompting); vocational skills (identifying jobs of interest, completing applications with demographic information, and following multi-step directions and focusing attention); and activities of daily living (following multi-step directions and focusing attention, danger awareness). (S-5) 45. Program modifications/items of specially designed instruction in the October 2013 IEP remained essentially the same, with the addition of breaks to reinforce on-task behavior and parental contact regarding transportation when Student would not attend the ATF. The provision for vocabulary presentation was removed. Transportation was removed as a related service, but the speech/language therapy remained. (S-5) 46.Student was determined to be not eligible for ESY services again because Student’s ability to recoup skills and make progress on IEP goals was deemed to be adequate. Student’s program was for life skills for all academic, daily living, and vocational instruction in addition to speech/language support. The Parent approved the accompanying NOREP. (S – 5) 47. Over the course of the 2013-14 school year, Student was deemed to have made moderate progress on most of the IEP goals and objectives, with the exception of the objective for using a clock to take a break that was not introduced and more limited progress on the objectives for following multi-step directions and focusing attention. Student was absent from school more than twenty school days that school year and missed a portion of school days on several other occasions; however, ten of the missed full days were at the very start of the school year. (N.T. 330-31; S-6, S-7) 48. The Parents advised the District that Student would not return to school in the fall of 2014. (N.T. 185; S-8 p. 15) 2014-15 SCHOOL YEAR 49. September 2014 after the Parents advised that Student would return for the 2014-15 school year, and Student did return on September 15, 2014. No revisions were made to the IEP at that time. (N.T. 432-33, 760-61, 768; S-8) 50. Student was disappointed that Student returned to school in the fall of 2014 and expressed the belief to teachers that Student should not be back in school. (N.T. 433-35, 545-46) 51. In September 2014, Student obtained a score on the EOWPVT below the 1st percentile. Student also scored below the 1st percentile on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Fourth Edition (PPVT-4) (which measures receptive vocabulary, see S-18 pp. 6-7). (S-8 p. 15; HO-1) 52. In September 2014, Student remained at a second grade instructional reading level, with a slight decrease in word accuracy and fluency, and a significant decrease in comprehension, from September 2013. Student showed some improvement in reading accuracy at a third grade level over the previous September. (S-8 p. 16) 53. A transition assessment was conducted in late September 2014, including an interview with Student and completion of a Picture Interest Career Survey. (N.T. 442; S-23) 54. The District convened another meeting of the IEP team in October 2014 for development of a new IEP, but the Parents did not attend. The District members of the IEP team met days at the ATF. They also discussed other vocational programs in the area. The District planned to but did not propose an increase in the number of days per week at the ATF because the Parents were not in attendance. (N.T. 298-300, 429-30, 432; S-8 pp. 9-10) 55. The October 2014 IEP noted that the Parents had not provided input into that document, asking the District to rely on prior information. As in the prior IEP, needs were identified with respect to semantic and pragmatic language; reading comprehension; functional of mathematics skills; attention and focus; following directions containing more than one step; continued development of safety awareness; and vocational skills (completing forms/applications, self-advocacy, and exploring vocational opportunities). (S-8) 56. Transition services in the October 2014 IEP noted goals for supported employment opportunities (with improvement of job skills) and supported living. Activities toward the employment goal included attendance at the ATF three days per week, completion of an interest inventory and career survey, and prompting for interpersonal skills with peers in addition to participating in self-advocacy scenarios. Contact information for OVR and two other vocationally-oriented agencies was also provided. Activities toward the supported living goal included instruction in activities of daily living. (S-8) 57. The October 2014 IEP provided annual goals and short term objectives in functional mathematics skills (using fractions for measuring recipe ingredients, telling time, counting money, solving functional word problems using money); reading comprehension at a third grade level (identifying story elements, answering comprehension questions, using comprehension strategies), reading fluency and accuracy; expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language (vocabulary including synonyms and antonyms, conversational turns with prompting); and daily living (following multi- step directions and focusing attention, danger awareness, completing applications, and requesting help). (S-8) 58. Program modifications/items of specially designed instruction in the October 2014 IEP were for small group instruction for reading and mathematics, social skills instruction, preferential seating with teacher proximity, prompting for remaining on task, opportunities for reinforcement and practice of skills, test accommodations and modifications, curriculum focused on key concepts, community-based instruction, and an agenda. Small group or individual speech/language support was a related service. (S-8) 59. ability to recoup skills and make progress on IEP goals was deemed to be adequate. instruction in addition to speech/language support. The Parents did not return a signed NOREP. (S-8) 60. The District issued a new RR in November 2014 that was a record review only because the Parents did not consent to a reevaluation. The Parents did not provide input into the RR. (N.T. 96; S-9 p. 1, S-10, S-47 pp. 49-50 at 194-99 ) 61. The District school psychologist did not conduct any academic achievement assessment for the 2014 RR but obtained curriculum-based assessments for educational programming. Included in the RR were the results of a September 2014 QRI, a District curriculum-based assessment in mathematics, and a writing sample. The District school psychologist also did not observe Student for the 2014 RR. (N.T. 97, 103-04, 108; S-10) 62. Teacher input into the 2014 RR reflected that Student required prompting and redirection to maintain focus and attention and follow directions throughout the school day, and of difficulty retaining information and skills. Repetition, consistency, and practice were considered to be necessary to maintain skills and make progress on IEP goals and objectives. (S-10) 63. Student maintained expressive language skills from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2014. (N.T. 407-08) 64. The 2014 RR identified Student as eligible for special education on the bases of Autism, Intellectual Disability, and a Speech or Language Impairment. Recommendations included continuation of life skills support and speech/language support in addition to the recommended evaluations. (S-10) 65. The District school psychologist who issued the November 2014 RR did not meet with the Parents to review its results. (N.T. 104)
    66. The District school psychologist who issued the November 2014 RR recommended a psychiatric evaluation to assess the reasons for Student’s schoo l avoidance. A speech/language evaluation was also recommended. The Parents did not consent [to] those evaluations . (N.T. 118 – 19 , 334 – 35 , 367 ; S – 9 p. 1, S – 47 pp. 49 – 50 at 194 – 99 )
    67. A QRI in March 2015 reflected a decline in scores at the second grade read ing level in accuracy and comprehension. Student similarly demonstrated a decrease in mathematics skill proficiency on curriculum – based assessments. No speech/language assessments had been conducted in the spring of 2015. (S – 15 pp. 9 – 10)
    68. Over the course of the 2014 – 15 school year, Student was deemed to have made minimal to moderate progress on most of the IEP goals and objectives, with some not introduced or monitored during some quarters. Student’s attendance was noted to impact Student’s progress in a ll areas, with regression on some skills (such as counting coins and bills). (S – 12)
    69. -15 school year, with Student absent nearly forty school days for all or a portion of the school day (more than one or two periods). (N.T. 180-81, 331-32; S-13) 2015-16 SCHOOL YEAR 70. The IEP team met to develop a new IEP in September 2015. The Parent was not able to attend. (N.T. 787; S-15) 71. Limited information on Student’s then – present levels of present educational and functional performance were provided in the September 2015 IEP because Student’s inconsistent attendance had limited the District’ ability to conduct assessments. ( N.T. 176; S – 15)
    72. Needs identified in the September 2015 IEP remained t he same as the most recent IEP : semantic and pragmatic language; reading comprehension; functional mathematics skills; attention and focus; following directions containing more than one step; continued development of safety awareness; and vocational skills (completing forms/applications, self – advocacy, and exploring vocational opportunities). (S – 15)
    73. The transition section of the IEP remained very similar, with indications that Student was not attending school so those activities were limited. The District proposed that Student attend the ATF three days per week, and did not recommend that Student attend the ATF five days per week because Student had academic and speech/language needs that could not be met by the ATF. (N.T. 759, 784; S-15) 74. The September 2015 IEP provided annual goals and short term objectives in functional mathematics skills (telling time, counting money, solving functional word problems using money); reading comprehension at a third grade level (identifying story elements, answering comprehension questions, using comprehension strategies), reading fluency and accuracy; expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language (vocabulary including synonyms in context, reciprocal conversational skills with prompting); and daily living (following multi-step directions and focusing attention, danger awareness, completing applications, and requesting help). An attendance goal at the high school with related objectives, aiming for 100% attendance except for legitimate excuse, were added. (S-15) 75. Program modifications/items of specially designed instruction in the September 2015 IEP were for small group instruction for reading and mathematics, social skills instruction, prompting for remaining on task, opportunities for reinforcement and practice of skills, test and assignment accommodations and modifications, curriculum focused on key concepts, community-based instruction. Small group speech/language support was a related service. (S-15) 76. The IEP team developed a positive behavior support plan for failure to attend school. The hypothesis of the function of that behavior was determined to be gaining control or escaping/avoiding tasks at school. No Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) was conducted regarding that behavior since Student was not attending school, and there was no specially designed instruction or related services specific to attendance. (N.T. 310-11, 455, 537, 539-41; S-15) 77. Student was determined to be not eligible for ESY services because Student would age out of special education at the end of the 2015- for life skills for all academic, daily living, and vocational instruction in addition to speech/language support. The Parent did not return a signed NOREP. (S-15) 78. The District also issued a NOREP on September 30, 2015 proposing that Student would graduate in June 2016. That NOREP was not returned signed and approved. (S-16) 79. The District requested consent to another reevaluation in the fall of 2015. (S-17) 80. Student did not attend school during the 2015-16 school year because Student refused to do so, believing Student had graduated. (N.T. 180, 333, 454, 457, 460, 462, 554, 682, 716-17; S-21, S-22) 81. Student attended the ATF during the 2015-16 school year, and attendance was fairly consistent. However, Student sometimes missed one or more days per week. (S-20) 82. The District issued a NOREP ending special education services in June 2016 due to turn the NOREP. (N.T. 460-61) DISTRICTS HIGH SCHOOL LIFE SKILLS CLASSROOM 83. In the high school life skills classroom, two special education teachers and at least two paraprofessionals were present. The teachers split the class into groups for reading and mathematics instruction typically based on ability level. The students were also divided into groups for other activities such as social skills, vocational skills, and activities of daily living. Most groups consisted of approximately six students with one teacher and one paraprofessional. (N.T. 417-19, 446, 643-44, 647-48) 84. The students in the life skills classroom generally had breakfast upon arrival, then a morning meeting followed by reading and mathematics instruction. The students would leave the classroom for special or elective classes then have lunch in the cafeteria. Afternoons consisted of social skills, vocational skills, and activities of daily living until the end of the school day. (N.T. 420-21, 423, 425, 448-49, 522, 643-44) 85. Reading instruction was focused on comprehension including strategies to aid in understanding the text. (N.T. 648, 686) 86. Mathematics instruction was focused on functional skills. (N.T. 688) 87. Students in the life skills classroom moved to different parts of the school building for specials and electives and occasionally academic classes. (N.T. 326-27) 88. Students in the life skills classroom worked on organizational skills such as filing papers. (N.T. 428, 644-45) 89. The life skills classroom used a class-wide behavior plan where the students could earn rewards for exhibiting positive behavior. Students who exhibited frequent problematic behavior were not permitted to participate in rewards. Student did not exhibit behaviors at school that required additional behavioral intervention. (N.T. 424-25) 90. Student was social with peers at school both in and outside of the life skills classroom. Student was able to communicate with others at school, but did have difficulty maintaining conversations. (N.T. 419-20, 426, 447, 449, 556, 720) 91. The life skills class participated in pre-vocational activities in the community, including at a public library, a supermarket, and a local resort. Those activities occurred once or twice per week. (N.T. 301-07, 351-57, 726-27) 92. Vocational skills include pre-organizing and completing tasks, and cooperating with a group. Vocational skills also  include social skills, functional academic skills, and activities of daily living. (N.T. 213, 218-19, 749-56, 762-63) 93. When students develop pre-vocational and vocational skills in multiple environments, they are better able to transfer and generalize those skills to new situations such as a new work setting. (N.T. 756-57) ADULT TRAINING FACILITY 94. Student attended the ATF, operated by a behavioral health organization, beginning in the fall of 2013. There, participants work on pre-vocational skills and participate in community activities. Community integration is a major focus of the ATF program Student attended. (N.T. 212-13, 235; S-29) 95. The District provides transportation to and from the facility for students who attend. After a morning meeting, the adults engage in pre-vocational activities in small groups until a break for lunch, which the adults assist in serving and cleanup. Activities that might be vocational or recreational, in the facility or out in the community, then follow for the afternoon again in small groups. (N.T. 225-27, 245-46, 340, 384) 96. The ATF begins planning for an adult the most independence possible and identifying necessary steps toward that goal. (N.T.238) 97.Student’s goal at admission to the ATF was for placement at the ATF following graduation to continue to develop pre – vocational skills. (N.T. 239) 98. The ATF conducted an integrated assessment of Student in the fall of 2013 to identify strengths and needs and to prioritize concerns. The priorities for Student were determined to be a willingness to engage and learn pre-vocational skills, and appropriate social interactions. Both of those priorities were vocational skills. (N.T. 216-19; S-29) 99. An initial annual assessment of Student was also conducted by the ATF when Student first began attending there. At that time, Student demonstrated needs in most areas because Student did not perform skills or did so inconsistently: functional skills such as telling time; pre-vocational skills such as initiating tasks; community life such as community volunteering; and social skills. Student was independent with self-care skills and fairly consistent in the area of safety. The ATF identified employment barriers including social skills and independent living skills, but few needs for work readiness. (N.T. 220-22; S-30) 100. The ATF developed treatment plans that were reviewed regularly. Student’s skill deficits in the fall of 2013 were identified with goals an d planned interventions. (S – 31) 101. During the 2013-14 school year, the ATF identified needs with respect to staying focused and remaining on task (with a goal for accepting vocational opportunities offered) and reducing anxiety that interfered with social relationships (with a goal to decrease nervous behaviors). Student demonstrated improvement in those areas based on anecdotal reports and objective data where available. These results are provided to parents and the local educational agency. (N.T. 228-29, 270; S-31, S-32, S-33, S-34) 102. A new annual assessment in the fall of 2014 revealed that Student had the same needs as in the initial annual assessment, with additional safety concerns noted in a kitchen environment and outdoors. Continued concerns with respect to a willingness to engage and learn pre-vocational skills and appropriate social interactions were noted. (S-36, S-375) 103. During the 2014-15 school year, the ATF identified needs with respect to staying focused and remaining on task (with a goal and objective to attend the ATF and improve job skills). Another objective was engaging in social activities with peers. Student demonstrated inconsistent improvement toward meeting the goal and objectives based on anecdotal reports and objective data where available. (S-39, S-40) 104. A new annual assessment in the fall of 2015 revealed that Student had the same needs as in the fall 2014 annual assessment. Continued concerns with respect to a willingness to engage and learn pre-vocational skills and appropriate social interactions were noted. (S- 41, S-426) 105. During the 2015-16 school year, the ATF identified needs again with respect to maintaining attention to task without assistance and redirection (with a goal and objective to attend the ATF and improve job skills). The additional objective for engaging in social activities with peers remained. Student demonstrated inconsistent improvement toward meeting the goal and objectives based on anecdotal reports and objective data where available; however, Student did demonstrate decreased self-stimulatory behaviors by the end of the school year. (S-41, S-43, S-45, S-46) 106. the ATF, Student demonstrated pre-vocational and vocational needs, as well as social, emotional, and behavioral needs. on ATF goals was variable. (N.T. 239, 252-53, 262) 107. Except for absences, Student attended the ATF two days per week during the fall of the 2013-14 school year and the District high school on the other three days. By the spring semester, Student was at times attending the ATF three or four days per week. There was a period of time when Student attended the ATF four days per week in order to make up some missed time there. (N.T. 298, 341-43; S-48) 108. Except for absences, Student attended the ATF three days per week during the 2014-15 school year and the District high school the other two days. Student did not start at the 5 The ratings for each of the four parts of the 15-page annual assessment were identical to those in October 2013; however, the determination of needs was subjective (N.T. 264, 266-70, 271-72). 6 The ratings for each of the four parts of the 15-page annual assessment were identical to those in October 2013 and October 2014. ATF until the very end of September, and was absent approximately twenty four days during the first semester and sixteen days the second semester. (N.T. 298, 341-44; S-48) 109. Student attended the ATF three days per week during the 2015-16 school year. (S-20, S- 43 p. 1) 110. The District did not suggest that Student attend the ATF for more than three days a week , but needed to be, consistent. (N.T. 757-59) INDEPENDENT EVALUATIONS 111. By agreement of the parties, an independent educational evaluation (IEE) was conducted in the fall of 2015, with a report of that evaluation issued in September 2016. The independent psychologist was not able to arrange for an observation of Student at the ATF. (N.T. 570-71; S-19)7 112. Cognitive assessment for the IEE were the Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence Second Edition (CTONI-2) and Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities – Fourth Edition (WJ-IV-COG). The CTONI-2 yielded a Full Scale Composite Index score (52) below the 1st percentile and in the very poor range; both of the scale scores were consistent. On the WJ-IV-COG, Student attained a General Intellectual Ability score in the very low range (standard score below 40, < 0.1 percentile rank), and similar scores on those subtests. The detailed analysis of the cognitive assessment in the IEE reflected a relative strength with Oral Vocabulary and a number of relative weaknesses. (S-19 pp. 5-13) 113. -Johnson Tests of Achievement Fourth Edition (WJ-IV-ACH) reflecting scores in the very low range across clusters and subtests compared to same-age and same-grade peers. Student demonstrated relative strengths in achievement in the areas of Written Expression and Spelling and other areas of relative weakness. (S-19 pp. 19-27) 114. Memory and Learning Second Edition) for the IEE yielded overall impaired skills (< 0.1 percentile) with all subtest scores in the borderline/low average to impaired range. (S-19 pp. 13-14) 115. The IEE also reported results of the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF) for adults from the Parent and an ATF employee. Concerns of the Parent were reflected in the Shift, Working Memory, and Task Monitor Scales; no concerns were indicated by the ATF employee. (S-19 pp. 15-18) 7 The markings on S-19, all of which are underlines or circles done in pen or pencil, were not made by the hearing officer. 116. The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration administered as part of the IEE together with optional companion instruments revealed weak overall visual-motor integration skills. (S-19 pp. 18-19) 117. Rating scales from the Behavior Assessment System for Children Third Edition (BASC-form yielded at-risk concerns with respect to Adaptive Skills including Adaptability, Leadership, Activities of Daily Living, and Functional Communication. The ATF employee endorsed a clinically significant concern with respect to Withdrawal, and at- risk concerns with respect to Atypicality and Social Skills. Overall, the BASC-3 did not reveal significant difficulty with behavior. (S-19 pp. 29-32) 118. skills, revealing some areas of deficit. Those same individuals completed the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale Third Edition, yielding results supporting Autism. (S-19 pp. 32-36) 119. The Parent completed the protocol for the Third Edition of the ABAS for the IEE, reflecting under-developed adaptive skills overall with some variability among areas assessed by that instrument. (S-19 pp. 36-39) 120. With respect to transition planning, the IEE sought and included input from the Parents and the ATF employee. Both reflected that Student continued to need to develop skills in identifying and learning about careers of interest, applying to post-secondary based on weaknesses, and learning independent and daily living skills, as well as improving functional academic skills. (S-19 pp. 38-40) 121. The IEE concluded that Student was a child with a disability and in need of specially designed instruction based on Intellectual Disability and Autism. The private psychologist who conducted the IEE offered recommendations for a blended functional academic and vocational training program. Particular intervention was noted to be necessary in the areas of social skills instruction as well as behavioral and social manifestations adaptive/functional skills was also noted. (S-19 pp. 44-46) 122. An Independent Speech and Language Evaluation was also conducted in November 2015. The independent speech/language pathologist observed Student at the ATF. (S-18pp. 5-6) 123. The independent speech/language pathologist administered the PPVT-4 and the EOWPVT-4. Student attained scores below those from previous administrations, well below the 1st percentile on the former and below the 1st percentile in the latter; Student thus showed regression in receptive language skills in the fall of 2015. On select subtests of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals Fifth Edition (CELF-5). fell within the severely delayed range. (N.T. 403-06; S-18) 124. Pragmatic language ability was also assessed for the independent speech/language evaluation. Student demonstrated pragmatic language skills that were also significantly delayed. All of Student profile. (N.T. 188-90; S-18) 125. significant gains in language skills, although Student could be expected to make progress on specific targeted skills such as perspective-taking that are of interest to and useful for Student. (179-80; S-18)

    DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

    GENERAL LEGAL PRINCIPLES

    Generally speaking, the burden of proof consists of two elements: the burden of production and the burden of persuasion. At the outset, it is important to recognize that the burden of persuasion lies with the party seeking relief. Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 62 (2005); L.E. v. Ramsey Board of Education, 435 F.3d 384, 392 (3d Cir. 2006). Accordingly, the burden of persuasion in this case rests with the Parents who filed the complaint and requested this hearing. Nevertheless, application of this principle determines which party prevails only in the rare more frequently determined by which party has presented preponderant evidence in support of its position, as is the case here. Hearing officers, as fact-finders, are also charged with the responsibility of making credibility determinations of the witnesses who testify. See J. P. v. County School Board, 516 F.3d 254, 261 (4th Cir. Va. 2008); see also T.E. v. Cumberland Valley School District, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1471 *11-12 (M.D. Pa. 2014); A.S. v. Office for Dispute Resolution (Quakertown Community School District), 88 A.3d 256, 266 (Pa. Commw. 2014). This hearing officer found each of the witnesses to be credible, testifying to the best of their recollection from his or her perspective. The relatively few inconsistencies in the testimony, such as for what period of time Student attended the ATF four days per week, were attributed to inaccurate memories rather than any intent to deceive or exaggerate, and were relatively inconsequential to the issues presented. The testimony of the independent psychologist was forthright, knowledgeable, and quite persuasive, and was accorded significant weight needs.8 On the other hand, the testimony of the Parent was undermined by the assertion that-14 school year to the end of the 2015-16 school year (N.T. 731) program at the District was second-hand and was thus accorded reduced weight.9 The testimony of all other witnesses was gauged to be straightforward and given essentially equal weight. In reviewing the record, the testimony of every witness, and the content of each exhibit, were thoroughly considered in issuing this decision, IDEA PRINCIPLES The IDEA and state and federal regulations obligate local educational agencies (LEAs) to education. 20 U.S.C. §1412. In Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982), the U.S. Supreme Court held that this requirement is met by providing personalized instruction and support services that are reasonably calculated to permit the child to benefit educationally from the instruction, providing the procedures set forth in the Act are followed. The 8 e.g., N.T. 599, 610-11, 613), recognizing that the process of conducting evaluations of and programming for special education needs is dependent upon many factors. 9 The Parents concerns, however, were sincere and clearly genuine, and certainly not discounted. Ridgewood Board of Education v. N.E., 172 F.3d 238, 247 (3d Cir. 1999). LEAs meet the obligation of providing FAPE to eligible students through development and implementation of Mary Courtney T. v. School District of Philadelphia, 575 F.3d 235, 240 (3d Cir. 2009) (citations omitted). Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court considered anew the application of the Rowley Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, ___ U.S. ___, ___, 137 S. Ct. 988, 999, 197 L.Ed.2d 335, 350 (2017).
    The “reasonably calculated” qualification reflects a recognition that crafting an appropriate program of education requires a prospective judgment by school officials. The Act contemplates that this fact – intensive exercise will be informed not only by the expertise of school officials, but also by the inpu t of the child’s parents or guardians. Any review of an IEP must appreciate that the question is whether the IEP is reasonable, not whether the court regards it as ideal.
    The IEP must aim to enable the child to make progress. After all, the essential function of an IEP is to set out a plan for pursuing academic and functional advancement. This reflects the broad purpose of the IDEA[.] * * * A substantive standard not focused on student progress would do little to remedy the pervasive and tragic academic stagnation that prompted Congress to act.
    That the progress contemplated by the IEP must be appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances should come as no surprise. A focus on the particular child is at the core of the IDEA. * * * As we obse rved in Rowley , the IDEA “requires participating States to educate a wide spectrum of handicapped children,” and “the benefits obtainable by children at one end of the spectrum will differ dramatically from those obtainable by children at the other end, wi th infinite variations in between.”
    Endrew F , ___ U.S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 988, 999, 197 L.Ed.2d 335, 349 – 50 (2017) (citing Rowley at 206 – 09). The Court explained that, “an educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of [the child’s] circu mstances… [and] every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.” 137 S. Ct. at 1000, 197 L.Ed.2d at 351. This is especially critical where the child is not “fully integrated into the regular classroom.” Id . The Court thus concluded that “the IDEA demands … an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” 137 S. Ct. at 1001, 197 L.Ed.2d 352. This standard is not inconsistent with the above interpretat ions of Rowley by the Third Circuit.
    Rowley , Endrew , and the IDEA make clear, the IEP must be responsive to the child’s identified educational needs. See 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d); 34 C.F.R. § 300.324. However, the IEP need not “provide ‘the optimal level of services,’ or incorporate every program requested by the child’s parents.” Ridley School District v. M.R. , 680 F.3d 260, 269 (3d Cir. 2012). Furthermore, “t he measure and adequacy of an IEP can only be determined as of the time it is offered to the s tudent, and not at some later date.” Fuhrmann v. East Hanover Board of Education , 993 F.2d 1031, 1040 (3d Cir. 1993).
    GENERAL SECTION 504 AND ADA PRINCIPLES Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a handicap or disability. 29 U.S.C. § 794. A person has a handicap if he or she “has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,” or has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment. 34 C.F .R. § 104.3(j)(1). “Major life activities” include learning. 34 C.F.R. § 104.3(j)(2)(ii). Nevertheless, t he obligation to provide FAPE is substantively the same under Section 504 and under the IDEA. Ridgewood , supra , 172 F.3d at 253; see also Lower Mer ion School District v. Doe , 878 A.2d 925 (Pa. Commw. 2005). Thus, the FAPE claims under both statutes will be addressed together. THE PARENTS CLAIMS The Parents challenge various aspects of Student’s program. The first to be addressed, logically, is w hether the District failed to conduct adequate evaluations of Student to guide programming decisions. The first relevant evaluation was in the fall of 2012, a reevaluation of Student that would serve to inform programming decisions for the beginning of th e relevant time period, specifically the 2013 – 14 school year. The IDEA sets forth two purposes of the required evaluation or reeval u ation : to determine whether or not a child is a child with a disability as defined in the law, and to “determine the educational needs of such child[.] ” 20 U.S.C. §1414(a)(1)(C)(i). In conducting the evaluation, the law imposes certain requirements on local education agencies to ensure that sufficient and accurate information about the child is obtained: (b) Conduct of evaluation. In conducting the evaluation, the public agency must (1) Use a variety of assessment tools and strategies to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about the child, including information provided by the parent, that may assist in determining (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability under § 300.8; and enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities); (2) Not use any single measure or assessment as the sole criterion for determining whether a child is a child with a disability and for determining an appropriate educational program for the child; and (3) Use technically sound instruments that may assess the relative contribution of cognitive and behavioral factors, in addition to physical or developmental factors.
    34 C.F.R. §§ 300.304(b) ; see also 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(2) . The evaluation must assess the child “in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities[.]” 34 C. F.R. § 304(c)(4); see also 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(3)(B). Additionally, the evaluation must be “sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified,” and utilize “[a]ssessment tools and strategies that provide relevant information that directly assists persons in determining the educational needs of the child[.]” 34 C.F.R. §§ 304(c)(6) and (c)(7); see also 20 U.S.C. § 1414(b)(3). All evaluations, including reevaluations, require review of existing data. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(C)(1); 34 C.F.R. § 300.305(a).
    The Parents point out a number of potential flaws with the 2012 RR: the failure of the school psychologist to observe Student in any setting, the absence of any standardized assessments other than the WAIS-IV, executive functioning skills, memory, pragmatic language skills, and social/emotional/behavioral functioning. Certainly the addition of some if not all of the assessments conducted for the IEE, as well as observations by the school psychologist, would have yielded significant useful information about St in vocational settings to assist the IEP team in making programming decisions. This hearing officer does have concern with the use of strictly curriculum-based measures in the fall of 2012 achievement, 10 escription of the purpose of the November 2012 reevaluation and the failure to meet with the Parents to discuss the results and determine whether additional assessments were warranted. The independent psychologist also provided a cogent explanation of the utility of obtaining rating scales from individuals in different environments as part of a special education evaluation (N.T. 582-83), contrary to the use of the 10 The testimony regarding the District norming of its curriculum-based assessments, while credible, applied only to students through eighth grade. (N.T. 745-46) ABAS-II in 2012.11 Nevertheless, it must be remembered that Student had attended school in the District strengths and needs over time. that included their own observations both inside and outside the classroom. In addition, there executive functioning, memory, or social/emotional/behavioral functioning that would suggest additional assessments were necessary in order to develop IEPs for Student. Both the Parent and Student participated in the IEP team meeting in the fall of 2013, the first during the relevant time. Moreover, even the independent psychologist who conducted the IEE stopped short of characterizing the 2012 RR as inadequate under the law (N.T. 581). The Parents point out similar flaws in the fall 2014 RR. However, the record is clear that the Parents would not provide their consent to new assessments, so the District was limited to a review of records. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(c)(3); 300 C.F.R. §§ 300.300(c) and (d). In sum, despite the fact that the District did not have as complete a picture of Student in the fall of 2012 and 2014 as did the independent psychologist who conducted the IEE, the circumstances in this case do not equate to a denial of FAPE where there was information available from which the team s IEPs, the substance of which must also be examined.
    The next issue is whether Student’s IEPs were appropriate for Student under the IDEA and the implementing regulations. As noted above, an IEP must be reasonably calculated to enable the student to receive m eaningful educational benefit in light of the student’s unique circumstances and potential. However, “ it would again be inconsistent with the longstanding
    11 The District’s reasons for not doing so were less persuasive (N.T. 110, 114).
    interpretation of the IDEA to find that providing a FAPE requires designing specific monitoring goals for every single recognized need of a disabled student. As noted above, a FAPE is a threshold guarantee of services that provide a meaningful educational benefit, not a perfect Coleman v. Pottstown School District, 983 F. Supp. 2d 543, 572-573 (E.D. Pa. 2013), d, 581 Fed. Appx 141 (2014). An absence of goals or monitoring of progress with respect to a particular area of educational need can amount to a procedural violation. Benjamin A. v. Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128552, *37-38, 2017 WL 3482089 (E.D. Pa. 2017). However, a procedural violation is actionable under the IDEA only if it results in a loss of educational opportunity for the student, seriously deprives parents of their participation rights, or causes a deprivation of educational benefit. D.S. v. Bayonne Board of Education, 602 F.3d 553, 565 (3d Cir. 2010); 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(E)(ii); 34 C.F.R. §300.513(a)(2).
    The Parents challenge the District’s IEPs for the 2013 – 14, 2014 – 15, and 2015 – 16 school years with respect to academic, social/emotional/behavioral, speech/language, and executive functioning skills, activities of daily living, post – secondary transition voc ational programming, and eligibility for ESY services. (N.T. 20 ; Parents’ Closing at unnumbered pp. 29 – 30 )
    With regard to academics, review of the IEPs reflects that Student had similar annual goals throughout the time period in question, focused on funct ional reading, functional mathematics, expressive / receptive /pragmatic language, vocational skills, and activities of daily living, all of which were needs identified for Student. Student’s short term objectives did change from year to year, reflecting th at the IEP team considered Student’s then – current strengths and weaknesses at the time of development of each IEP. It must also be remembered that Student required ongoing repetition and practice to maintain skills across domains . Thus, it is not inappropriate that Student’s IEPs continued to emphasize skills that Student had acquired in order not to regress. The Parents point to Student’s relatively stagnant instructional grade levels in reading and mathematics skills, for example . Nevertheless , the IEPs and Student’s progress must be evaluated in light of Student’s unique circumstances and potential. The independent evaluator recommended that Student’s program be focused on functional academics, which is what the District did throughout the time pe riod in question , as did the ATF . There was also evidence that Student could not be expected to make significant gains in language skills. Rather than c oncentrating on any specific grade levels , the more pertinent consideration is whether the academic pr ogramming was appropriately functional for Student. The preponderant evidence is that the IEPs implemented over the three school years did provide for Student to continue to acquire and maintain functional academic skills geared toward Student’s unique ab ilities and weaknesses , at Student’s age, and were sufficiently challenging for Student who struggled with consistent demonstration of previously acquired skills . With respect to the post-secondary programming, the following is instructive. The IDEA requires that every IEP created for a child that is age sixteen or older must include appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based on age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and independent living skills, as well as corresponding transition services. 20 U.S.C. § student’s needs and is created to help the disabled student move from school to post-school activities. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(34)(B); 34 C.F.R. § 300.43. K.C. ex rel. Her Parents v. Nazareth Area School District, 806 F. Supp. 2d 806, 822 (E.D. Pa. fourteenth year. 22 Pa. Code § 14.131(a)(5). The Third Circuit has not defined what amount of transition planning is required in an IEP to ensure a FAPE. Several courts, including those in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, have suggested that inadequate transition planning is a procedural defect and thus should be evaluated based on whether substantial harm has resulted. The floor set by the IDEA for adequate transition services appears to be low, focusing on whether opportunities are created for a disabled student to pursue independent living and a career, not just a promise of a particular result. Coleman, supra, 983 F. Supp. 2d at 566. The Parents, quite understandably, are concerned that Student is not sufficiently prepared to function independently in an adult society, including holding employment without support and attaining a level of self-sufficiency. The services available to young adults who are beyond the age of IDEA eligibility are undeniably limited. However, the District did not, and indeed was not obligated to, guarantee any particular outcome for Student upon graduation, including helping Student to learn a trade. Student participated in a variety of vocational and independent living activities, including the development of pre-vocational soft skills, that were geared toward post-secondary vocational and living opportunities based on identified transition goals. Those activities occurred both in the school environment (including a variety of community-based specifically undeveloped pre–secondary interests also changed over time. progress at the ATF, growth in that program was incremental and at times inconsistent, the mere fact that Student continued to demonstrate pre-vocational needs at the end of the 2015-16 school year does not mean that Student failed to make progress in developing and maintaining many of those varied skills. Taken as a whole, and giving due consideration to provided opportunities for pursuit of post-secondary employment and daily living to Student thats interests, goals, and potential.
    Next, the Parents challenge the District’s programming for Student’s social, emotional, behavioral, and executive functioning. However, with the exception of attendance discussed below, Student did not exhibit emotional or behavioral needs at school, including manifesting anxiety, that required intervention beyond the classroom incentive plan. Student was provided instruction in and practice with social skills and organization throughout the school day, and engaged appropriately with peers in that environment. Even the independent psychologist noted since Student did not exhibit the same deficits at the ATF as Student did at home (S-19 p. 45). In manifested in the educational and vocational environment and appropriately responded, which is what the law requires.
    With respect to ESY eligibility, it is surprising that Student’s IEPs continually reflected that Student did not lack the ability to recoup skills and make progress on IEP goals12 in light of the extensive citation throughout the record to S
    maintain skills. Nevertheless, the evidence is clear that the District was informed that Student would graduate at the end of the 2013-14 school year, only learning in September 2014 that Student would return, so there was no reason for it to consider ESY in 2014. By the summer of had become steadily poorer, and it is far from likely that Student would have been amenable to attending an ESY program in 2015. Student graduated at the end of the 2015-16 school year, so ESY was not available. For these reasons, the evidence does not establish a denial of FAPE for ESY programming. 12 The relevant time period begins at the end of July 2013; ESY that summer would have been concluded or nearly concluded by then. The final FAPE matter to be discussed is whether the District responded appropriately to end of the 2012- and objectives. Student missed the first ten days of the 2013-14 school year, but attendance moderated after that period and was not a cause for alarm. The start of the 2014-15 school year was rather different, with Student disappointed that Student had not graduated and expressing psychiatric evaluation as it does when any student misses a significant number of school days, so that a truancy elimination plan could be conducted. It is quite unfortunate that the Parents would not consent to that evaluation. Nevertheless, certainly by the start of the second semester of the 2014-15 school year, some action should have been taken by the District to address school,13 in all areas and the recognition that Student could not increase the number of days per week at the ATF unless Student demonstrated a more consistent presence. With no agreement for the psychiatric evaluation, it is perplexing that the IEP team did not convene to discuss how to irregular attendance that was affecting Student in all areas. The problem worsened in the following 2015-16 school year when Student did not attend school at all. While adding an attendance goal to the September 2015 IEP and proposing an FBA was surely a step in the right direction, the time to conduct an FBA and determine interventions to encourage 13suggestion that it is not necessary to calculate the exact number of days that Student was absent at 9 n. 1), particularly since there are a few apparent, but certainly not unusual, human errors in the documentation. There is no dispute between the -15 and 2015-16 school years.
    Student’s attendance was in the spring of 2015, when Student was still at school on many days. There was also no apparent consideration given to identifying changes to the school-based program that may have helped Student be available for academic instruction and speech/language services somewhere other than the classroom to which Student was reluctant to return. This hearing officer concludes that the a denial of FAPE for the second half of the 2014-15 school year and the entire 2015-16 school year, for which relief shall be awarded.
    REMEDY: COMPENSATORY EDUCATION As a remedy,
    the Parents seek compensatory education, which is an appropriate form of relief where a school district knows , or should know, that a child’s educational program is not appropriate or that he or she is receiving only trivial educational benefit, and the district fails to remedy the problem. M.C. , supra . Such an award may compensate the child for the period of time of deprivation of educational services, excluding the time reasonably required for a school district to correct the deficiency. Id . The Third Circuit has recently endorsed a different appro ach, sometimes described as a “make whole” remedy, where the award of compensatory education is designed “to restore the child to the educational path he or she would have traveled” absent the denial of FAPE. G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District Author it y, 802 F.3d 601, 625 (3d Cir. 2015); see also Reid v. District of Columbia Public Schools , 401 F.3d 516 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (adopting a qualitative approach to compensatory education as proper relief for denial of FAPE). Compensatory education is an equita ble remedy. Lester H. v. Gilhool , 916 F.2d 865 (3d Cir. 1990).
    The Parents suggest that Student should be awarded full days of compensatory education, and further assert that a make whole remedy requires much more (Parents’ Closing atunnumbered 27 – 30) . They also sought introduction of a number of District education records , mainly e valuations of and programming for Student prior to those admitted for the relevant time period , for consideration of that qualitative remedy . Both parties provided argument on the utility of these documents in their closings as was requested.
    After review, this hearing of officer is not persuaded that consideration of those proffered documents would assist in calculation of a compensatory education award in 2017 for several reasons . First, to the extent the documents might suggest previous FAPE denials as the Parents contend , evidence on whether the District provided or did not provide an appropriate educational program to Student outside the scope of the claims is not relevant and must be excluded. To hold otherwise would, in this hearing officer’s estimation, render meaningless the statutory requirement inserted into the IDEA in 2004 for filing within the limitations period. Stated another way, if a party could file a complaint beyond the tw o – year limitations period, but then be permitted to seek the very same remedy that could have been pursued if the complaint had been filed on a timely basis, the IDEA statute of limitations, and the precedential authority such as G.L. construing its language, would be wholly inconsequential. Second, G.L. stated very clearly that a compensatory education demand that seeks to restore a child to the position he or she would have held “ but for the deprivation, ” 802 F.3d at 625 (emphasis a dded) , was an available remedy and, accordingly, any such award must still be tied to the FAPE denial that is at issue . Moreover, permitting the Parents to proceed with the evidence regarding the provision of FAPE prior to July 2013 would directly contra vene the caution of the G.L. Court that a party may not attempt to sweep together untimely claims with those that were filed within the two – year statutory period. 802 F.3d at 625 . For all of these reasons, the District’s objection to the exhibits offered by the Parent at the close of the hearing is hereby sustained. This hearing officer concludes that the record does not include any relevant evidence on an appropriate equitable remedy that would place Student in the position where Student would be absent the FAPE denial described above. Thus, the hour-for-hour method will be used as the basis for the appropriate approach. Student must be provided with the number of hours of compensatory education lost due to the failure to address attendance at school (not the ATF) during the spring semester of the 2014-15 school year and the entire 2015-16 school year. That amount shall be calculated at 5.5 hours per day14 for each day of unexcused absence from school during the second half of the 2014-15 school year,15 in addition to eleven hours per week (two days each week that Student would have attended school) for the entire 2015-16 school year (thirty six weeks) for a 2015-16 school year total of 396 hours of compensatory education. The hours of compensatory education are subject to the following conditions and Parents may decide how and by whom the hours of compensatory education are provided. The compensatory education may take the form of any appropriate developmental, remedial or enriching educational service, product, or device that furthers -secondary transition, academic, speech/language, or social/emotional/behavioral needs and skills. The compensatory education services may occur when convenient for Student and the Parents, and may be used at any time from the present until Student turns age twenty-six (26). The compensatory services shall be provided by appropriately qualified professionals selected by the Parents. 14 Secondary school students are required to be provided with 990 hours of instruction for the school term of a minimum of 180 school days. 22 Pa. Code §§ 11.1, 11.3. 15 Due to apparent errors in some of the attendance records, this exact number is not set forth as it cannot be calculated with confidence.

    CONCLUSION

    Based on the foregoing findings of fact and for all of the above reasons, this hearing officer concludes that the District did deny Student FAPE for part of the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years and Student must be awarded compensatory education to remedy the deprivation.

    ORDER

    AND NOW, this 16th day of September, 2017, in accordance with the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, it is hereby ORDERED as follows. 1. The District did fail in part of its FAPE obligations to Student under the IDEA during the second half of the 2014-15 school year through the end of 2015-16 school year, not including ESY programming. 2. The District shall provide Student with compensatory education as follows: a. For the entire second semester of the 2014-15 school year, 5.5 hours for each day unexcused absence from school according to final school records; and b. For the entire 2015-16 school year, 396 total hours. 3. The compensatory education award is subject to all of the following conditions and limitations: a. education are provided. The compensatory education may take the form of any appropriate developmental, remedial or enriching educational service, product, or -secondary transition, academic, speech/language, or social/emotional/behavioral needs and skills. The compensatory education services may occur when convenient for Student and the Parents, and may be used at any time from the present until Student turns age twenty-six (26). b. The compensatory services shall be provided by appropriately qualified professionals selected by the Parents. The cost to the District of providing the awarded hours of compensatory services may be limited to the average market rate for private providers of those services in the county where the District is located. 4. Nothing in this decision and order should be read to prevent the parties from mutually agreeing to alter any of its terms. It is FURTHER ORDERED that any claims not specifically addressed by this decision and order are DENIED and DISMISSED. Cathy A. Skidmore _____________________________ Cathy A. Skidmore HEARING OFFICER 18366-1617AS A-B-Pennsbury-ODRNo-13605-1213-KE-1
  • Lawyer to Sue Schools

    lawyers to sue school

    Lawyer to Sue Schools

    What would make a parent search for a lawyer to sue schools? How do parents even know that there are attorneys that focus their practice on education law? In this post, we ask 3 different parents to answer 4 important questions. Their individual experiences will help you navigate the special education process.

    The four questions are:

    1. What drove you to find a school lawyer?
    2. How did you know that there were lawyers that focused their practices on education law issues?
    3. What advice would you give to other Parents that are struggling to get appropriate services for their children?
    4. How is your child doing now?

    Here are the answers we received!

    MM from Philadelphia, PA:

    What drove you to find a school lawyer? The lack of progress + growth related to my son’s education, he didn’t make any progress in a year. Also the teachers supporting the autistic support classrooms weren’t qualified to work + teach my son. How did you know that there were lawyers that focused their practices on education law issues? I did research on my own and asked a few of my legal friends. What advice would you give to other Parents that are struggling to get appropriate services from their school for their children? Go seek legal counsel to know and discuss their rights and to never give up on their child. How is your child doing now? He just started in his new school today, he was a little nervous but did well overall. I am hoping this year will help him learn and grow both socially and academically.

    SP from Suburban Philadelphia:

    What drove you to find a school lawyer? I was telling my “Story” of my child’s struggles and what was happening to us in Public school to a friend one afternoon. She had some experience with her son who had a similar story and suggested I call a lawyer to at least see if I had a case…and we did. [My daughter] also had a tutor we were working with at the time who also suggested I contact a lawyer. She also had experience with the public school system. How did you know that there were lawyers that focused their practices on education law issues? My daughter’s tutor we had been working with for a while knew I was battling with some of her teachers in the Public School she was attending. She mentioned early on (before we decided to leave) that we should consider and advocate to help us with her IEP…and if things got worse, a lawyer who specialized in Education Law. What advice would you give to other Parents that are struggling to get appropriate services from their school for their children? ALWAYS have an advocate with you from the beginning. It is worth every penny to have them sit in on meetings and help review your child’s IEP.  Document everything…take detailed notes at every meeting (dates, times, who attended, etc). Be careful what you sign. Do not be afraid to ask for what you want and ask questions. If you think something seems off, it most likely is. If you communicate with teachers or administration via email, save them all.  Never go to an IEP Meeting alone and don’t underestimate how important these meetings are.  If I were to do again, I’d also do an observation of the classroom while in session so I get a better understanding of what is happening during the actual school day and the environment my child is in. The more informed a parent is the better. Parents are a child’s best advocate and know their child the best. How is your child doing now? My daughter just started middle school and has been in a “specialized school” for 2 1/2 years now. She loves school and couldn’t wait to get back. She is in an appropriate school environment with her peers and is learning and doing well. She has confidence now and strategies to help her learn that she was not getting in the Public School System. She is happy! She still has her struggles and probably always will, but her school is teaching her how to manage them and also be aware of her strengths.

    JR from South New Jersey:

    1 . What drove you to find a school lawyer:  My child was being bullied, very badly, but we didn’t know it was happening at first. She was refusing to go to school, her grades were dropping and she lost interest in extracurricular activities. She has autism and has trouble articulating her day to day activities. It wasn’t until a student videotaped the bullying and posted it online that we discovered the depth of the bullying and the cause for our daughters change in personality. 2. How did you know that there were lawyers that focused their practices on education law issues? It was actually a teacher friend of ours, who had been through an education due process matter, that advised us to find a lawyer. 3. What advice would you give to other Parents that are struggling to get appropriate services for their children? Do not wait! If you think something is wrong in school, you are likely right. Trust your instincts and demand answers if your child starts acting differently. 4 – How is your child doing now? It’s like a different world since after Montgomery Law got involved. We are thankful every morning when our daughter rushes to get ready for school and every evening when she gets excited for homework!
    Are you a parent that hired an education lawyer and filed for due process against your child’s school? If so, comment your experiences below.