AR vs. Bethlehem Area 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 i do not affect the substance of
the document.

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: AR

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing:
June 21, 2007, September 6, 2007, October 17, 2007, November 13, 2007, December 4, 2007, December 5, 2007
OPEN HEARING
ODR #7623/06-07 KE

Parties to the Hearing:

Mr. and Mrs.

Bethlehem Area School District 1516 Sycamore Street Bethlehem, PA 18017

Representative:

Vivian B. Narehood, Esquire Gibbel, Kraybill & Hess LLP 41 East Orange Street Lancaster, PA 17602

Hollie B. John, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 East Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: January 8, 2008

Date of Decision: January 23, 2008

Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student is a xx year old, eligible resident of the Bethlehem Area School District
(District). (NT 9-1 to 13.) She is identified for special education as mentally retarded
with speech and language impairment. (NT 9-13 to 16.) She is diagnosed with Down
Syndrome. Parents requested due process alleging a failure to provide placement in the
least restrictive environment, appropriate services in academic, behavioral and
transitional skills, and both compensatory education and tuition reimbursement.

The District argues that the Parents had demanded inappropriate program and
services that they were now attacking, that the Student made significant educational gains
in the 2005-2006 school year, that their offer for the 2006-2007 school year was
appropriate, and that the Parents enrolled the Student in a private school that was
inappropriate for the Student.

The Parents requested public reimbursement for private school tuition less than
one week before a mediation session on June 28, 2006. (S-17.) They requested due
process originally on or about September 29, 2006, but due to an emergent family matter,
they withdrew their request and re-filed on or about April 27, 2007. The initial hearing
commenced on June 21, 2007; however, the original hearing officer withdrew due to an
emergent family matter, and this matter was reassigned to the undersigned, who
convened the second session on September 6, 2007. A total of six sessions were
conducted between June 21, 2007 and December 5, 2007. Counsel submitted written
summations and findings of fact on January 8, 2008 and the record closed on that date.

ISSUES

1. In the 2005-2006 school year, did the District provide a program and placement in
the least restrictive appropriate educational environment?

2. In the 2005-2006 school year, did the District provide an appropriate program and
placement, addressing the Student’s individual needs for functional academics in
reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression, oral
expression, and math calculation, as well as social skills training?

3. In the 2005-2006 school year, did the District provide an appropriate transition
plan and services?

4. In the 2005-2006 school year, did the District provide appropriate related speech
and language services addressing speech pragmatics?

35. For the 2006-2007 school year, did the District offer the Student a program and
placement in the least restrictive appropriate environment, that was reasonably
calculated to provide an opportunity for meaningful educational benefit?

6. Should the Parent be reimbursed for the cost of an Independent Educational
Evaluation?

7. Should the District be ordered to pay for tuition reimbursement and transportation
costs for the 2006-2007 school year?

8. Should the hearing officer award compensatory education for the 2005-2006
school year?

 

AR-Bethlehem-Area-ODRNo-7623-06-07-KE

 

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