Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: D.P.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 3/16/2015, 5/11/2015, 5/14/2015, 5/15/2015
ODR File No. 15726-14-15 AS
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency Philadelphia City School District Office of General Counsel Philadelphia, PA 19130
Judith Gran, Esq.
Reisman Carolla Gran LLP 19 Chestnut Street Haddonfield, NJ 08033
Michele Mintz, Esq.
1301 Masons Mill Business Park 1800 Byberry Road, #1301 Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
Date Record Closed: June 9, 2015
Date of Decision: June 24, 2015
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, Esq.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a kindergarten-aged student in the Philadelphia School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parents filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504),3 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),4 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes.
The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over four sessions,5 at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parents6 sought to establish that the District failed to offer Student an appropriate educational program in the least restrictive environment as Student made the transition to school-aged programming; that the District discriminated against Student; and that the District retaliated against the Parents. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student, and that it did not engage in any discrimination or retaliation against the family.
For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parents on the FAPE and discrimination claims, but in favor of the District on the issue of retaliation.
1. Whether the special education program proposed by the District as Student entered kindergarten for the 2014-15 school year was appropriate including placement in the least restrictive environment;
2. Whether the District should be directed to continue to provide a program for Student in the general education environment with consideration of appropriate supplementary aids and services for the 2015-16 school year;
3. Whether the District engaged in discrimination and retaliation against the family in violation of Section 504 and the ADA; and
4. If the District did engage in discrimination and retaliation, should it be ordered to cease that conduct?