Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: CP
Date of Birth: XX-XX-XXXX
Date of Hearing: 9/5/09
ODR No. 00016-09-10AS
Parties to the Hearing:
20 Welden Drive Doylestown, PA 18901-2359
School District Attorney
Scott Wolpert, Esquire Timony Knox, LLP
400 Maryland Drive P.O. Box 7544
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Date Record Closed: September 22, 2009
Date of Decision: October 7, 2009
Hearing Officer: Deborah G. DeLauro, Esq.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
“Student” (hereinafter “Student”) is a fifteen year old tenth grade student who resides in the Central Bucks School District (hereinafter “District”). Student qualifies for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (hereinafter “IDEA”) with a disability category of autism1 and with a secondary disability of speech and language impaired. Student has substantial communication, social and behavioral delays and requires significant adaptations and modifications in all curricular areas. [N.T. 244-246; SD-33] Student’s placement was and is identified as “Supplemental Autistic Support.” [N.T. 147; 178-179; SD-19; SD-33] Student spent the majority of “student’s” ninth grade year, 2008-2009, in the [Redacted] Middle School (hereinafter Middle School) where “student” was placed in an Autistic Support Class for all of “student’s” academic subjects and direct instruction in special area subjects and had a personal care assistant (hereinafter “PCA”) at all times. [N.T. 148-150; SD-33]
In the spring of 2009, the Individual Education Plan (hereinafter “IEP”) team initiated discussions about transitioning from the Middle School to a District High School, [Redacted] High School (hereinafter High School) in the 2009/2010 school year.
The dispute in this case centers on the Parent’s disagreement with the High School proposed placement.2 To that end, a due process hearing was scheduled for September 2, 2009. However, on August 23, 2009, this Hearing Officer issued an Interim Order, which provided that Student’s Pendent Placement was the Autistic Support Class at High School. [Interim Order dated August 23, 2009 attached hereto and incorporated herein] At the Due Process Hearing, Parent contended that the location of the Student’s educational placement at High School was inappropriate because, inter alia:
- 1) Student does not have a valid IEP since student and “student’s” Parents were not permitted to participate in the placement decision and the special education supervisor dictated key components in advance of the May 9, 2009 IEP meeting;
- 2) The May 9, 2009 IEP was also invalid because of its dangerous omission of a PCA; and
- 3) Student’s placement at High School is the furthest possible location in the District in violation of 34 Code of Federal Regulations. [N.T. 40-42]
After a due process hearing session and a careful review of the parties’ testimony and evidence, I find for the District for the reasons described below.
1. Whether the District’s proposed placement in the supplemental autistic support program at High School for the 2009-2010 school year is appropriate?3