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.
Gifted Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: C.C.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Date of Hearing:
February 18, 2016
ODR Case # 17252-1516KE
Parties to the Hearing:
Solanco School District 121 South Hess Street Quarryville, PA 17566
Mark Cheramie Walz, Esquire Sweet Stevens
331 East Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18601
Date Record Closed: February 18, 2016
Date of Decision: February 29, 2016
Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[The student]1 is a [middle-teenaged] student who has been identified as a gifted student under Pennsylvania gifted education regulations.2 The student resides in, and has received gifted education through, the Solanco School District (“District”).
The student is deeply gifted in mathematics. As part of the student’s acceleration in mathematics, the student took 9th grade algebra as an 8th grade student and was awarded high school credit for the grade earned in the class. That credit, and the grade earned, factors into the student’s cumulative high school grade point average.
Parents filed a complaint alleging that, when discussing the 8th grade acceleration in mathematics, they were not informed of the potential impact on the student’s high school grade point average and consequent class rank. Parents ask that the District be directed to re- calculate the student’s cumulative high school grade point average as it impacts [the student’s] class rank3.
The District counters that its decisions as to awarding credit, assigning numeric equivalents to earned letter grades, factoring those numeric equivalents into a cumulative grade point calculation, and ultimately determining class rank are within its control and should not be disturbed.
Before the hearing convened, the hearing officer requested that the parents and District counsel participate in a conference call to discuss the hearing process, to provide an opportunity for anyone to ask questions, and to provide certain directives to the parties. As part of that conference call, and as expected, District counsel shared that he had jurisdictional concerns as to whether a gifted education hearing officer had authority to grant the relief requested by parents. The hearing officer instructed District counsel to provide to the hearing officer and the parents by a certain deadline any legal authority he felt supported his client’s position. With that authority in hand, the parents were then provided with a deadline to provide any legal authority they felt countered the District’s authority or provided a different view. The District submitted such authority; parents did not.
Regardless of the potential effect of the District’s legal argument, the parties were informed that the hearing officer did not intend to act on any such authority without an evidentiary hearing. In that way, parents would have the opportunity to be heard.
For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the District. Particularly, the legal authority cited by the District in light of the evidence then developed at the hearing session leads this hearing officer to conclude that he does not have the authority to instruct the District in the way parents request as remedy.
Does the hearing officer have the authority to grant the remedy requested by parents?
If so, should the District be directed
to re-calculate the student’s
cumulative high school grade point average
with potential consequent effects on the student’s class rank?