DF vs. School District Lebanon

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 15242-1415AS

Child’s Name: D.F.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 9/11/14, 9/24/14

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parent[s]

School District Lebanon
1000 S. 8th Street Lebanon, PA 17042

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Angela Uliana-Murphy, Esquire 106 N. Franklin Street, Suite 2 P. O. Box 97
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

School District Attorney
Mark W. Cheramie Walz, Esquire Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 Butler Avenue
P.O. Box 5069
New Britain, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: October 3, 2014

Date of Decision: October 18, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

 

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student, who currently attends an IU emotional support classroom housed in an elementary school in a neighboring district, received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from a medical facility during the spring of 2012. Subsequently, the District issued a psycho-educational evaluation report in which it determined that Student is IDEA eligible. Although the District concluded that autism is Student’s primary disability, it identified emotional disturbance as a secondary disability category and placed Student in emotional support classrooms with no autistic support services at all until the middle of the 2013/2014 school year..

Student’s behaviors deteriorated significantly by the end of the 2012/2013 school year, culminating in hospitalization for mental health treatment in the spring of 2013. When the District denied Parents’ request for placement in a private school that specializes primarily in educating children with behavior issues arising from ASD and ED, they agreed to the current IU ES classroom for the 2013/2014 school year. Student’s behavior difficulties increased again as the year progressed, resulting in hospitalization again at the end of the 2013/2014 school year.

When the District again denied Parents’ request for the private school placement, they filed a due process complaint in July 2014, seeking compensatory education for the past two school years, as well as placement in the private school. The hearing was held over two sessions in September. For the reasons that follow, including the District’s failure to evaluate Student for all educational needs associated with ASD, limited AS services and ineffective behavior interventions that the District did not make a reasonable attempt to improve before the due process complaint was filed, Parents’ claims are granted in all respects.

 

ISSUES

  1. Has the School District failed to provide an appropriate placement for Student with sufficient supportive services to meet Student’s needs?
  2. If not, should the District be ordered to provide compensatory education for any time in the past?
  3. If so, for what period, in what amount, and in what form should compensatory education be awarded?
  4. Should the School District be ordered to fund the private school placement for Student that Parents selected, in that it is appropriate and will meet Student’s needs?
D-F-Lebanon-ODRNo-15242-1415AS

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