ET vs. Lower Merion School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: ET

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xxxx

Dates of Hearing: 4/30/09, 6/10/09, 7/13/09, 7/22/09

CLOSED HEARING

ODR No. 9529/08-09 KE

Parties to the Hearing: Parents

School District

Lower Merion .
301 E. Montgomery Avenue Ardmore, PA 19003-3338

Representative: Parent Attorney

Stephen Jacobson, Esq. Connolly, Jacobson & John, LLP 188 North Main Street Doylestown, PA 18901

School District Attorney

Lawrence Dodds,Esq.
Margaret Choksi, Esq.
Wisler, Pearlstine, LLP
484 Norristown Road, Suite 100 Blue Bell, PA 19422

Date Record Closed: August 26, 2009

Date of Decision: September 10, 2009

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

ET, now 10 years old, resides with her family in the Lower Merion School District, where she was enrolled and attended school from kindergarten (2004/2005 school year), through the end of 3rd grade (2007/2008 school year). ET left the District elementary school to enroll in a private school for the 2008/2009 school year, where she repeated 3rd grade.

Contending that the District failed to timely evaluate and identify ET as eligible for special education and related services, Parents filed a due process complaint to obtain an award of compensatory education for at least two years prior to the filing date, reimbursement for privately provided speech/language services and payment for an IEE they obtained just prior to the District’s IDEA evaluation. Based upon the record compiled during the course of a four session hearing convened between April 30 and July 22, 2009 and the arguments of counsel, Parents will be awarded limited compensatory education for part of the period in dispute, and the District will be required to pay for the IEE provided by a pediatric neuropsychologist who evaluated ET at Parents’ request in 2007 and provided the catalyst for the District’s subsequent evaluation to determine IDEA eligibility. Because the compensatory education award encompasses speech/language services that should have been provided by the District, separate reimbursement for those services will not be awarded, but Parents may use the compensatory education fund that will be created to reimburse those costs.

ISSUES

Did Lower Merion School District violate its “Child Find” obligations under the IDEA statute by failing to evaluate ET to determine whether she had a disability and failing to identify her as eligible for special education and related services prior to June 2008?

Did Lower Merion School District deny ET a free, appropriate public education at any time while she was enrolled and attending school in the District?

Is ET entitled to an award of compensatory education, and if so, for what period(s), in what amount and in what form?

Are ET’s Parents entitled to reimbursement for the speech/language therapy they provided privately for ET?

Is the Lower Merion School District required to pay for an independent neuropsychological evaluation obtained by Parents in December 2007?

E-T-Lower-Merion-ODRNo-9529-08-09-KE

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