Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: H.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR No. 18081-16-17-KE
Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]
Abington School District 970 Highland Avenue Abington, PA 19057-4014
Caryl Andrea Oberman, Esquire Law Offices of C. A. Oberman, LLC 705 North Easton Road
Willow Grove, PA 19090
Claudia L. Huot, Esquire Wisler, Pearlstine, LLP
Blue Bell Executive Campus 460 Norristown Road, Suite 110 Blue Bell, PA 19422-2323
Dates of Hearing: September 29, 2016; November 14, 2016; December 8, 2016; December 12, 2016; January 23, 2017; February 8, 2017
Date of Decision: March 21, 2017
Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esq., CHO
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The child named in this matter (Student)1 is a resident of the District named in this matter (District), and is enrolled in kindergarten at a private school (School) for the 2016-2017 school year. (NT 8-9.) Prior to enrolling in the School, Student was enrolled in an early intervention program under the auspices of the local intermediate unit. Student’s Mother and Father (Parents) and the District participated in the transition to school age educational planning process. The District, at Parents’ request, provided a re-evaluation report and conducted three meetings with Parents, offering successively revised iterations of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Student. The District has classified Student under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA) as a child with the disability of Autism. (NT 8-9.)
Parents assert that the District failed to offer Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for Student’s kindergarten year. Parents filed this due process request in August 2016, pursuant to the IDEA; section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 (section 504); and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101, et seq. (ADA).2 Parents request reimbursement for one year’s tuition and costs for Student’s participation at the School, and the costs of private evaluations that Parents obtained unilaterally.
The District asserts that it offered Student a FAPE for Student’s kindergarten year.
The hearing was completed in six sessions. I have determined the credibility of all witnesses and I have considered and weighed all of the evidence of record. I conclude that the District failed to offer a FAPE to Student, and I enter the appropriate equitable relief.
- Did the District offer to provide a FAPE to Student for Student’s kindergarten year in compliance with the IDEA?
- Did the District provide Parents with appropriate opportunity to participate in educational planning for Student in compliance with all of the procedural requirements of the IDEA?
- Is the School an appropriate placement for Student?
- Considering the equities, should the hearing officer order the District to reimburse Parents for tuition and costs incurred on account of Student’s participation in the School during the 2016-2017 school year?
- Should the hearing officer order the District to reimburse Parents for the cost of the private educational evaluation by the private school psychologist, along with the cost of the private psychologist’s participation in this matter to the extent provided under section 504?
- Did the District offer to provide a FAPE to Student for Student’s kindergarten year within the meaning of section 504?