BZ vs. Wilson Area 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

ODR No. 3483-1213 KE

Child’s Name: B.Z.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: 1/24/13, 1/31/13, 2/19/13

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parents

School District
Wilson
2601 Grandview Boulevard West Lawn, PA 19609-1324

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Michael Connolly, Esquire Connolly, Jacobson & John 99 Lantern Drive, Suite 202 Doylestown, PA 18901

School District Attorney
Thomas Warner, Esq.
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams 331 Butler Avenue, P.O. Box 5069 New Britain, PA 18901-0934

Date Record Closed: March 11, 2013

Date of Decision: March 27, 2013

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student is presently in the second year of school-age programming in the District, having previously received pre-school special education services from the local Intermediate Unit as an eligible young child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Despite Parents’ concern about continuing with a verbal behavior (VB) program based on Student’s slow progress in the local IU program, where instruction was also based on the VB model, they accepted the District’s recommendation for Student’s placement in its primary autistic support VB classroom. Because Parents perceived little progress during the first half of Student’s kindergarten year, they contacted a consultant with expertise in programming for children with ASD to observe Student at home and at school in order to develop a home program to complement the school program. Still dissatisfied with Student’s progress by the spring of 2012, Parents asked the consultant to develop an alternative to the VB program. After a second classroom observation in early April 2012, the consultant prepared a report proposing a functional curriculum for Student and a change from instruction by VB methods to another research-based, ABA inspired technique known as “pivotal response training.”

The District does not believe that a change in methodology or curriculum is necessary for Student, who, it contends, has made and continues making meaningful progress.

For the reasons that follow, notably slow progress with limited generalization of skills during the 2011/2012 school year that should have alerted the District of the need to try a different instructional method and curriculum, and progress that has worsened during the current school year, the District will be ordered to alter its instruction of Student to determine whether a different kind of instruction and curriculum will result in meaningful progress. Parents will also be awarded compensatory education for the current school year, to continue until new instructional techniques are implemented.

ISSUES

  1. Has the School District appropriately:
    a. Evaluated Student;
    b. Developed appropriate IEPs reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational progress;
    c. Provided sufficient, appropriate special education services?
  2. Is the verbal behavior instructional approach currently appropriate and effective for Student, or should the District be required to implement a different approach to instructing Student, specifically, pivotal response training paired with a functional curriculum?
  3. Is Student entitled to an award of compensatory education for any period from the time of Student’s enrollment in the School District at the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year, and if so, for what period, in what amount and in what form?
B-Z-Wilson-ODRNo-3483-1213-KE

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