HC vs. The School District of Philadelphia

IN THE PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION

FINAL DECISION AND ORDER

ODR File No. 3158-1112KE

CLOSED HEARING

Child’s Name: H.C.1

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Hearing Date(s):
June 22; July 17, 24, and 27, 2012

Parties to the Hearing

Parents

The School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Representative

Deborah G. DeLauro, Esquire
Law Office of Deborah G. DeLauro P.O. Box 321
Haverford, PA 19041

Heather L. Durrant Matejik, Esquire Levin Legal Group
1301 Masons Mill Business Park 1800 Byberry Road

Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Record Closed: August 17, 2012

Date of Decision: August 31, 2012

Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford

Introduction and Procedural History

The instant matter concerns the Student’s educational rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The Parents, through their complaint, allege that the Student was denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE) from the start of the 2008-09 school year through the present (ongoing) and demand compensatory education to remedy the denial of FAPE.

Originally, the Parents also demanded a finding that, in order to receive FAPE, the Student must be placed in a private school at the District’s expense.2 Ultimately, the Parents abandoned that claim and instead argued that any compensatory education awarded may be used to offset the cost of private school tuition. The Parents seek an order that explicitly enables them to use compensatory education in that way.

The District argues that it has provided FAPE at all times. Alternatively, the District argues that if compensatory education is awarded, it may not be used to offset the cost of tuition at a private school. The District further argues that a portion of the Parents’ claims are barred by the IDEA’s statute of limitations.

Initially, the hearing was bifurcated to address the applicability of the statute of limitations before the denial of FAPE claim. As the hearing progressed, surprisingly, it became clear that it was more efficient to un-bifurcate this matter. Consequently, this decision begins with an analysis of the IDEA’s statute of limitations and its applicability in this case. The alleged denial of FAPE is discussed immediately thereafter.

Issues

1. Does the IDEA’s statute of limitations bar claims arising before May 15, 2010?

2. Was the Student denied a FAPE?

3. If compensatory education is awarded, may it be used to offset the cost of tuition reimbursement at a private school?

H-C-The-School-District-of-Philadelphia-ODRNo-3158-1112KE

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