FH vs. Radnor Township School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: F.H.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: May 17, 2010

CLOSED HEARING

ODR No. 01002-0910-AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Ms. Andrea Chipego
Director of Pupil Services Radnor Township School District 135 S. Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087

Representative:

Caryl Oberman, Esquire Grove Summit Office Park 607 A North Easton Road Willow Grove, PA 19090

Sarah Davis, Esquire
1301 Masons Mill Business Park 1800 Byberry Road
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Date Transcript Received: May 22, 2010

Date of Decision: May 26, 2010

Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The parents of [Student] (hereafter Student)1 filed a complaint in due process which was received by the Office for Dispute Resolution on April 26, 2010. The complaint included claims related to extended school year (ESY) services, specified as an expedited claim, and also challenged portions of Student’s prior and future educational program. An initial hearing date was scheduled for May 17, 2010 before a different hearing officer, who asked the parties to submit written briefs regarding her authority to consider ordering a residential placement in the context of an expedited ESY hearing.2 The parties complied with that request but no ruling was issued. The District also filed a motion to bifurcate the ESY claim from the remaining issues in these proceedings, which was opposed by the parents. The motion to bifurcate was granted,3 although the parties and the hearing officer also discussed proceeding with all of the issues on a non- expedited basis.

This case was reassigned to this hearing officer on May 14, 2010. After review of the due process complaint and the parties’ ESY filings, and after discussion with the former hearing officer, this hearing officer met with counsel off the record prior to convening the hearing on May 17, 2010. Counsel for the District strenuously objected to proceeding on the expedited ESY issue on May 17, 2010, claiming prejudice based upon prior communications from the former hearing officer as well as the expectation that the ESY issue would be decided on the basis of briefs and that the remaining issues would be heard beginning on May 17, 2010.4 (N.T. 19-21) This hearing officer concluded that, because the parents had not waived their right to an expedited hearing and further because there had been no determination on the authority of the hearing officer to hear the ESY issue under the circumstances, the hearing would proceed on May 17, 2010 solely on the ESY claim. (Notes of Testimony (N.T.) 21. This hearing officer further found no limitation on her authority to hear and decide a residential placement issue within the context of an ESY proceeding, and in addition, considered the District’s contention that the placement issue for the ESY claim (although not any other issues) were related, which suggested a lack of substantial prejudice to the District in proceeding in this manner. (See Email message from counsel for the District to the former hearing officer dated April 29, 2010.) After hearing argument from counsel on the determination of the scope of the May 17, 2010 hearing, the matter proceeded on the ESY issue only in one session held that date.5 The transcript was received by the hearing officer on May 22, 2010.

For the following reasons, I find that the District’s recommendation for Student’s ESY programming for 2010 is appropriate.

ISSUE

Whether or not the District’s proposed ESY program for 2010 is appropriate for Student.

F-H-Radnor-Township-ODRNo-01002-0910-AS

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