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.T.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Date of Hearing: August 24, 2015
ODR Cases # 16631-15-16 KE
Parties to the Hearing:
Pennridge School District 1200 N. 5th Street Perkasie, Pa 18944
Thomas Warner, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, LLP
331 Butler Avenue New Britain PA 18901
Date Record Closed: August 24, 2015
Date of Decision: August 28, 2015
Hearing Officer: Charles W. Jelley, Esquire LL.M.
The Student (hereafter Student)1 is [a preteen-aged] 6th grade elementary student in the Pennridge School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (SD-1)2 The Parties agree the Student is a person who is Deaf, Autistic, Visually Impaired, and is also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Due Process Complaint Notice; SD-1). The Student also has a Cochlear Implant (N.T.p.18).
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES AND QUESTIONS PRESENTED
2. Should the last agreed upon 5th grade Autistic Support IEP be changed while
the due process action proceeds?
For the following reasons I find the last agreed upon December 2014 IEP is the
pendent IEP. This IEP describes the level of intervention, type of intervention, goals, objectives, progress monitoring, specially designed instruction (SDIs) and modifications the Student received in the 2014-2015 school year. I further find, at this point in time, after careful and thoughtful consideration of the testimony, after reviewing the two IEP exhibits totaling 142 pages, the District’s case law, along with the Parties’ August 25th 2015 post hearing submissions the Student should remain in the 5th grade Autistic Support class, at [Redacted] Elementary. Until a final decision on the merits, this is the location of the “stay put” placement where the last agreed upon pendent December 2014 IEP should be implemented.
I also find that to move the Student one business day before the opening of school would likely affect in some significant way the child’s learning experience. A promotion to the next grade level, at this time, would also be a fundamental change that is likely to have some impact on the child’s learning experience in violation of Section 1415(j) of the IDEA. A change of this magnitude, at this late hour, would more likely than not cause the child, the teacher and the Family undue anxiety, fear and confusion. The first day of school for children, teachers and parents should be filled with joy, excitement and hope. Under these facts, I believe that the pressure to prepare for a child with so many unique overlapping needs would create a highly pressurized situation that would place a deaf autistic child, with a Cochlear Implant, with limited verbal skills, and a visual impairment, who is prone to regression and recoupment difficulties, and [Student’s] teacher at an extreme disadvantage. This is not to say, that after the record is fully developed, and after an opportunity to hear, in full, from each Party in detail about this child’s FAPE needs, that I may in the future decide otherwise. While I understand the District’s well intentioned position, under these unique facts, I find that either of the District’s options may have “some significant impact on learning” as expected from the “then current” IEP. The likely “impact” on learning would affect the child, the IEP team and the Mother in violation of 20 U.S.C. Section 1415(j) otherwise known as the “stay put” or “pendency” provision of the Act.