SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
Child’s Name: H. D.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR File No. 18898-16-17/KE
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency
Radnor Township School District 135 S. Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
Joseph W. Montgomery, Esquire Montgomery Law, LLC
1420 Locust Street, Suite 420 Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tracey D. Waldmann, Esquire Raffaele Puppio LLP
19 W. Third Street
Media, PA 19063
Dates of Hearing: May 1, 2017; May 18, 2017; June 28, 2017
Date of Decision: July 24, 2017
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D. Certified Hearing Official
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a late pre-teenaged student who resides in the Radnor Township School District (District). Student is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 based on a Specific Learning Disability in reading, written expression, and mathematics, and an Other Health Impairment. Student attended a private school (Private School) beginning in the fall of 2014 and continuing through the end of the 2015-16 school year with the agreement of, and funding by, the District. In the spring of 2016, pursuant to their agreement, Student was reevaluated by the District and the parties met to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the fall of the 2016-17 school year.
Student’s Parents disapproved the placement proposed by the District for the fall of 2016, and filed a Due Process Complaint. The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over three sessions with the parties presenting evidence in support of their respective positions. The decision due date was extended on party request for good cause shown, then adjusted forward when later hearing sessions were not needed.
At the hearing, the Parents asserted that the District’s proposal for the 2016-17 school year with a return to the District did not offer Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,3 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes. They sought retrospective and
1 In the interest of confidentiality and Student’s privacy, Student’s name and gender, and other potentially identifiable information, are not used in the body of this decision to the extent possible, despite the Parents’ choice of an open hearing.
2 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1482. The federal regulations implementing the IDEA are codified in 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.1 – 300. 818. The applicable Pennsylvania regulations are set forth in 22 Pa. Code §§ 14.101 – 14.163 (Chapter 14).
3 29 U.S.C. § 794. The federal regulations implementing Section 504 are set forth in 34 C.F.R. §§ 104.1 – 104.61. prospective relief, in addition to reimbursement for certain expenditures. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered, was appropriate for Student, and that no relief was due.4
For the reasons set forth below, the Parents’ claims will be granted in part and denied in part.
- Whether Private School should be declared to be the last agreed- upon placement based on the District’s proposed program in the spring of 2016;
- Whether the District’s proposed program in the spring of 2016 for the 2016-17 school year offered FAPE to Student both procedurally and substantively;
- If the District’s proposed program for the 2016-17 school year was not appropriate for Student, should the Parents be awarded reimbursement for tuition to Private School for the 2016-17 school year;
- Whether the District should be ordered to provide a prospective placement at Private School for the 2017-18 school year;
- If the District’s proposed program for the 2016-17 school year was not appropriate for Student, and the District is ordered to fund Student’s placement at Private School for the 2017-18 school year, whether the District should conduct an evaluation of Student in the spring of 2018; and
- Whether the Parents should be reimbursed for one or more independent evaluations they obtained?