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
Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: B.O.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 7/21/2015, 7/23/2015, and 10/16/2015
ODR File No. 15616-14-15AS
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency
West Chester Area School District 829 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380-4551
Lorrie McKinley, Esquire McKinley & Ryan, LLC 238 West Miner Street West Chester, PA 19382
Sharon Montanye, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 Butler Avenue
New Britain , PA 18901
Date Record Closed: November 9, 2015
Date of Decision: November 20, 2015
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (Student)1 is a mid-teenaged student in the West Chester Area School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parents filed a Due Process Complaint against the District in November 2014, asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA in its proposed program for the 2014-15 school year as the family moved to Pennsylvania. The hearing was delayed for various reasons, including the complexities created by the family’s long-distance move to Pennsylvania, the need to maintain programming for Student during and after relocation, and the parties’ exploration of potential resolution throughout the changing and complicated circumstances.
The dispute centered over whether Student needed a residential placement in order to receive FAPE. This hearing officer issued two pendency rulings over the course of these proceedings, one related to the 2014-15 school year and one related to Extended School Year (ESY) services in 2015. The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over three sessions, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions.3 Much of the testimony focused on the program that Student was provided in the state where the family resided until the fall of 2014 and where Student attended until the fall of 2015, and the parties disagreed on whether that program was residential in nature. The Parents sought to establish that Student needed a residential placement in order to be provided with FAPE, while the District
1 In the interest of confidentiality and privacy, Student’s name and gender, and other potentially identifiable information including geographical references, are not used in the body of this decision.
2 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482.
3 References to the record will be made as follows: Notes of Testimony (N.T.), Parent Exhibits (P), School District Exhibits (S), and Hearing Officer Exhibits (HO). In addition to the exhibits admitted at N.T. 753-55, and in order to ensure a complete record, P-2 is also hereby admitted. References to the few duplicative exhibits will be to one or the other or both.
maintained that its proposed special education day program was appropriate for Student. For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parents.
Whether Student requires a residential placement in order to be provided with FAPE.