Special Education Hearing Officer
FINAL DECISION AND ORDER
Student’s Name: E. G.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR No. 16459-1415AS
Parties to the Hearing Parent[s]
Great Valley School District 47 Church Road
Malvern, PA 19355
Representative Stephen J. Jacobson, Esq. Jacobson & John LLP
99 Lantern Drive, Suite 202 Doylestown, PA 18901
Karl A. Romberger, Jr., Esq.
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams, LLP 331 E. Butler Ave.
New Britain, PA 18901
Dates of Hearing: 02/19/2016, 04/07/2016, 04/21/2016, 05/13/2016, 06/10/2016
Record Closed: 07/06/2016
Date of Decision: 07/20/2016
Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford, JD, CHO
Introduction and Procedural History
This special education due process hearing concerns the educational rights of the Student, who resides within the boundaries of the District.1 The hearing was requested by the Parents, who allege that the District denied the Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) from 3rd grade (2012-13 school year) through the present. The Parents demand compensatory education to remedy this denial. The Parents also allege that they enrolled the Student in a private school when the District failed to offer FAPE for the 2015-16 school year. The Parents demand tuition reimbursement for the 2015-16 school year.
The Parents’ Complaint raises claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. While all three laws are listed in the Complaint, all remedies demanded come from the IDEA, and so analysis will proceed under that law.
The Parents’ Complaint was filed on June 12, 2015, and then amended on August 18, 2015 and again on October 13, 2015. Each time the Compliant was amended, the timeline for this hearing reset. Throughout the hearing, there were multiple motions for continuances and multiple hearing sessions, each accompanied by a motion to extend the statutory decision due date.
At the outset of the hearing, the District moved to strike a portion of the Complaint as untimely. The District argues that some of the Complaint is barred by the IDEA’s statute of limitations. After a pre-hearing conference call, the parties agreed that the evidence establishing the timeliness or untimeliness of the claims significantly overlapped with the evidence for the substantive claims. As a result, a separate timeliness hearing was not held, and all evidence was presented over five hearing sessions.
For reasons described below, I find in favor of the District regarding the timeliness of the Complaint. For the portion of the Complaint that is timely, I find in favor of the District.
The issues presented are:
- Is any portion of the Complaint untimely?
- Did the District offer a FAPE from the start of the liability period through the start of the 2015-16 school year? If not, is the Student owed compensatory education?
- Are the Parents entitled to tuition reimbursement for the 2015-16 school year?