FS vs. Pleasant Valley School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: F.S.

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing:
March 7, 2006, March 27, 2006, April 3, 2006, April 4, 2006, May 2, 2006, May 10, 2006, May 11, 2006, May 24, 2006, June 8, 2006
CLOSED HEARING
ODR #6150/ 05-06 LS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent

Pleasant Valley School District Route 115
Brodheadsville PA 18322-2002

Representative:

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

Jane Williams, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Tucker & Katz P.O. Box 5069
New Britain PA 18901

Date Record Closed: July 21, 2006

Date of Decision: August 5, 2006

Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire

INTRODUCTION

Student is a xx year old eligible student residing with his Mother (Parent) in the Pleasant Valley School District (District). (NT 8-22, 9-14 to 21.) He is identified with multiple disabilities including neurological impairment, mental retardation, orthopedic impairment, visual impairment and speech/language impairment. (S-19 p. 21.) [Redacted.]

The Student has received early intervention services since 1996, shortly after his birth, when he received physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and special education services through [redacted] in his County. (S-19 p. 2.) The County Intermediate Unit provided vision support and orientation and mobility. Id. The family moved to [another] County in 2001 and the Student received early intervention services through the [Redacted] Intermediate Unit, including speech/language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, special education services and vision support. Id. The District also provided Orientation and Mobility services in anticipation of the Student’s transition to school age services in 2002. Id. As of the filing for due process in this matter, the Student was receiving full time instruction in the home, with 15 hours per week of special education services and 8 hours per week of related services. (S-18 p. 94.) Related services included speech and language therapy, vision support, orientation and mobility training, physical therapy and occupational therapy. (S-19.) There are also a number of assistive technologies, including orthopedic equipment and a voice output communication device. (S-19 p. 12, 75 to 81.)

The Parent filed for due process in December 2005, seeking prospective orders and compensatory education. (S-24.) The Parent alleged numerous deficiencies in the District’s educational program for the Student, resulting in a denial of free appropriate public education. Id. After a resolution meeting and negotiations, the issues were narrowed to those presented in this matter. The Parent charges that the IEP goals lack a “scope and sequence” and therefore fail to meet the Student’s needs, that education is not provided in the least restrictive environment, that the District has failed to implement an effective behavior management plan, that Physical Therapy services are insufficient in quantity and that the Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants must be trained and supervised to deliver sensory stimulation services. The Parent also asserted that the District has failed to provide supplies, communication systems and communication devices at District expense, and that District staff have failed to utilize assistive technologies as required by the IEP. The Parent continues to claim compensatory education for these alleged failures.

The District responds that its IEPs and services are extensive and comprehensive, and that the goals are selected according to the unique needs of the Student, obviating a strict scope and sequence of curriculum. The District defends the placement in the home as least restrictive due to the Student’s [medical condition] and the medical imprudence of placing him in a school building. It defends its behavior management, physical therapy and Occupational Therapy services as sufficient to meet the student’s educational needs, and cites its extensive efforts to cooperate with and support the Parent’s complex and evolving plans for communication devices for the Student. The parties stipulate that any compensatory education award will not encompass a period earlier than December 8, 2003. (NT 10-1 to 7.)

ISSUES PRESENTED1

1. Did the District’s 2004 and 2005 Individual Education Plans establish goals and objectives that offer an opportunity for sufficient educational progress, and was its educational program sufficiently coherent, consistent and coordinated to provide an opportunity for meaningful educational benefit?

2. Did the District fail to provide a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to the Student’s needs between December 8, 2003 and January 1, 2006?

3. Did the District fail to provide an adequate behavioral management system to the Student, thus denying him meaningful educational benefit?

4. Did the District fail to provide staff time necessary to construct PECS materials and program the Student’s communication device, as well as fail to pay for materials needed to construct PECS materials, and fail to provide a computer touch screen, thus denying the Student a free appropriate public education?

5. Did the District fail to provide adequate training to teachers and service providers in the utilization of the Student’s communication device, thus denying the Student a free appropriate public education?

6. Did the District fail to provide adequate hours of Physical therapy as a related service in the IEP, thus denying the Student a free appropriate public education?

7. Did the District fail to provide adequately trained staff to provide Occupational Therapy services required in the IEP, thus denying the Student a free appropriate public education?

8. As a result of any failure to provide a free appropriate public education, is compensatory education an appropriate remedy?

F-S-Pleasant-Valley-ODRNo-6150-05-06-LS

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