HH vs. Owen J. Roberts S.D.

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

Student’s Name: H. H.

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

O.D.R. #5659/05-06 KE

Dates of Hearing: September 9. 2005; October 24, 2005

Type of Hearing: Closed
Parties to the Hearing:

Parents

School District
Owen J. Roberts S.D. 901 Ridge Road Pottstown, PA 19465

Date Final Transcript Received November 1, 2005

Hearing Officer

Represented by
Heidi Konkler-Goldsmith 30 Cassatt Avenue Berwyn, PA 19312

Represented by
Karl Romberger 1250 S. Broad Street Lansdale, PA 19448

Date of Decision December 19, 2005

Linda J. Stengle

* Parties notified of need for extension by HO.

Background

The student’s date of birth is xx/xx/xx, and he resides within the geographical boundaries of the Owen J. Roberts School District (District) with his family. The parents requested the due process hearing, asserting that the student was owed compensatory education for the period from September 2002 to present and that the parents were entitled to tuition reimbursement for the student’s participation at [Redacted] School for the summer of 2005 and for the current school year. The case for which this decision is written is the result of a bifurcated request. The parents had requested a hearing earlier this year to address the Extended School Year concerns. The parties agreed to bifurcate the claim and deal with the Extended School Year issue as a compensatory education or tuition reimbursement issue in the present hearing, and no decision was rendered regarding the first part of the bifurcation of the complaint.

The district opened the case by moving that the Hearing Officer limit the period of consideration for compensatory education in accordance with Montour or IDEIA 2004. The parent objected. I ruled for the parent for reasons that are identified in the Discussion section below. The district then moved that it should not sustain the burden of proof because of the then pending Supreme Court oral argument in Schaffer v. Weast. I denied this motion for the reasons contained in N.T. 33-34. Essentially, I stated that the motion was denied because I had to rule in accordance with existing law, not by guessing about what the Supreme Court might rule. Finally, the district objected to the parent’s proposal of alternative remedies. I denied this motion on the grounds that alternative remedies were something that were explicitly foreseen and addressed by IDEA regulation Section 1415(1) and that time-honored rule that Hearing Officers may order any appropriate remedies to address a complaint.

Immediately prior to the issuance of the decision, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Schaffer v. Weast (USSC, #04-698, 2005), which switched the burden of persuasion to the party requesting the hearing, a significant change in the way Third Circuit cases had been handled previously. The district reiterated its motion and asked for reconsideration in light of the ruling. I took additional argument via email and notified the party that I would need an extension to consider the issue. Further discussion of this topic is found in the Discussion section below.

H-H-Owen-J-Roberts-ODRNo-5659-05-06-KE

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