Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: B.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR No. 18911-16-17-KE
Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]
Pennsylvania Department of Education 330 Market Street, 9th Floor Harrisburg, PA 19101
Sean J. McGrath, Esquire Education Law Center
1315 Walnut Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19107
Alaina C. Koltash, Esquire Assistant Counsel
Pennsylvania Dept. of Education 330 Market Street, 9th Floor Harrisburg, PA 19101
Date of Hearing: June 27, 2017
Date of Decision: July 17, 2017
Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire, CHO
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The child named in this matter (Student)1 is a three year old eligible resident of the District named in this matter (District). Student receives early intervention services from the respondent Early Intervention program named in this matter (EI Program), pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA). These services include the related service of transportation, pursuant to Student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Parents request due process, asserting that on multiple occasions the District as Student’s transportation provider has provided excessively long rides to Student; failed to provide appropriate safety equipment during transport; and failed to arrive on time to Student’s program. Parents request an order requiring DOE to ensure appropriate transportation services.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education (DOE) responds that it has provided and will continue to provide appropriate supervision and coordination of services provided by the EI Program and the District to ensure appropriate provision of transportation services pursuant to Student’s IEP. Thus, DOE argues that the matter is moot and asks the hearing officer to dismiss Parents’ claims. In the alternative, DOE argues that the responsibility for providing appropriate provision of transportation services pursuant to Student’s IEP rests with the District, which is authorized and tasked with this responsibility pursuant to state law.
Parents filed separate requests for due process, naming as respondents all three of the agencies with possible responsibility to provide transportation to Student pursuant to Student’s IEP: the EI Program, which is respondent in ODR No. 18909; the District, which is respondent in ODR No. 18910; and DOE, respondent in this matter. I consolidated these three matters for purposes of hearing and adjudication; the decision that follows encompasses and decides all three claims.
The parties agreed to submit a stipulated record, and stipulated a number of exhibits into the record. I convened a one session hearing in the form of oral argument. I have considered and weighed all of the evidence of record.2
I conclude that DOE retains responsibility to assure that Student receives transportation services consistent with the provision of a FAPE. I exercise equitable authority to order DOE to provide additional appropriate services to ensure that the deficiencies of the past are not repeated in the upcoming school year. In addition, I order the EI Program and the District to participate in an educational planning meeting with DOE, in order to ensure that Parents are provided with appropriate, complete and effective relief. G.L. v. Ligonier Valley Sch. Dist. Auth., 802 F.3d 601 (3d Cir. 2015).
- What are the relative legal responsibilities of the EI Program, the District and DOE to provide Student with the related service of transportation pursuant to Student’s current IEP?
- Should the hearing officer order any of these parties to provide Student or Parents with transportation-related services in addition to those which they have agreed to provide?
- Should the hearing officer order any of these parties to provide Student with compensatory education on account of any denial of a FAPE from March 17, 2017 to date?