EK vs. School District Easton Area

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

Student’s Name: E.K.

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

O.D.R. #5779/05-06 AS

Dates of Hearing:

October 4, 2005; December 5, 2005; December 12, 2005; January 9, 2006;

January 10, 2006; January 11, 2006; January 24, 2006; January 31, 2006; February 7, 2006; February 16, 2006

Type of Hearing: Closed

Parties to the Hearing:

Mother Parent

Father

Parent

School District Easton Area S. D. 811 Northampton St. Easton, PA 18042

Represented by: Angela Uliana-Murphy 507 William Street
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

Represented by:

Elizabeth Kapo
2123 Pinehurst Road Bethlehem, PA 18018

Represented by: Kristine Roddick
One W. Broad St. Bethlehem, PA 18018

Date Final Transcript Rec: February 21, 2006

Date of Decision:

March 23, 2006*

Hearing Officer: Linda J. Stengle

* Parties notified of need for extension via email. LJS

Background

The student’s date of birth is xx/xx/xx, and she attends high school in the Easton Area School District. The parents are divorced and at the time of this writing, share legal custody of the student but do not make decisions jointly about her education. The father made the complaint that started the proceeding. Midway through the hearing, after the first session, the mother decided that she wanted to become a party to the hearing. She also opposed aspects of the district’s proposed program for the student but had different views on the resolution. The result was a three party hearing, with several attorneys involved. Both the district and the mother changed attorneys through the hearing, and the district had co-counsel at almost every session. Details of all this are clearly explained in the transcripts.

The issues for the hearing were presented as compensatory education for the period from September 2003 through the date of the hearing and a question regarding appropriate program and placement for the current school year. The father and the district reached a pendency agreement in October, stopping the clock on the compensatory education issue. The mother, not then a party, was present and participated in conversations on the district side of the negotiations. Afterwards, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Schaffer v. Weast (USSC, #04-698, 2005), which switched the burden of persuasion to the party requesting the hearing, a significant change in the way Third Circuit cases had been handled previously.

The father initiated the hearing process, so I had his attorney present first and stated that the parents would have the burden of persuasion. The father disputes that ruling.

Again, in January, the parties, now three, had a dispute over how to move forward with a transition plan, specifically who should be hired to perform an independent evaluation of transition issues. That issue was resolved through an agreed upon process of the parties submitting resumes to me for review and selection of an appropriate candidate.

Near the end of the case, the parties made an agreement regarding compensatory education for the 2004-2005 school year, removing that issue from my consideration.

Issues

Is the student entitled to compensatory education for the 2003-2004 school year? If so, what is the appropriate amount and form of that compensatory education?

Is the student entitled to compensatory education from the start of the 2005-2006 school year to October 4, 2005?
If so, what is the appropriate amount and form of that compensatory education?

Is the program and placement offered by the district on 1/9/06 appropriate?

E-K-Easton-Area-S-D-ODRNo-5779-05-06-AS

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