CD vs. Mars 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

Child’s Name: C.D.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: 7/7/2015, 7/8/2015, 9/21/2015, 9/22/2015

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 15968-14-15 AS

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents

Local Education Agency
Mars Area School District
116 Browns HIll RoadValencia, PA 16059

Representative:

Parent Attorney
John P. Corcoran, Jr., Esquire
Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace LLP 411 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1200 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

LEA Attorney
Thomas E. Breth, Esquire
Dillon McCandless King Coulter & Graham, LLP
128 West Cunningham Street Butler, PA 16001

Date Record Closed: October 19, 2015
Date of Decision: October 31, 2015
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is beyond high school-aged and formerly attended the Mars Area School District (hereafter District). Student is alleged to be a Protected Handicapped Student under Section 504 and Pennsylvania’s Chapter 152 for part of Student’s tenure in the District. Student’s Parents filed a due process complaint against the District under Section 504 and its implementing federal and state regulations, claiming the District violated Student’s rights based on Student’s disability.

After preliminary rulings limiting the scope of the evidence to be produced to the Parents, the case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over four sessions, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to identify Student as having a disability and provide Student with a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) during the 2013-14 school year, and sought relief in the form of tuition reimbursement and a finding that the District discriminated against Student on the basis of Student’s disability. The District maintained that Student did not qualify under Section 504/Chapter 15, that the educational program that it implemented was appropriate for Student, and that no remedy is warranted.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parents, but will not order all of the specific relief requested.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District failed to timely identify Student as a Protected Handicapped Student under Section 504 and Chapter 15?
  2. Whether the District failed to provide appropriate accommodations to Student to address Student’s disability?
  3. If the District failed to timely identify Student and/or provide appropriate accommodations to Student on the basis of disability, are the Student and Parents entitled to compensatory education in the form of tuition reimbursement?
C-D-Mars-Area-ODRNo-15968-14-15-AS

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