HR vs. Easton Area School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: H.R.

ODR #17760 / 15-16-AS

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: August 15, 2016 October 4, 2016 October 5, 2016

OPEN HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Easton Area School District 1801 Bushkill Drive Easton, PA 18042

Representative:
Joseph Montgomery, Esquire Montgomery Law
1420 Locust Street Suite 420 Philadelphia, PA 19102

Timothy Gilsbach, Esquire Karley Biggs-Sebia, Esquire King, Spry, Herman, Freund

& Faul
One West Broad Street Suite 700 Bethlehem, PA 18108

Date of Decision: November 7, 2016

Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D., CHO Certified Hearing Official

Background

Student1 is a pre-teen aged District resident with multiple disabilities who is eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 and as such is also a qualified handicapped person / protected handicapped student under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.3 The District, which was and remains the Student’s Local Educational Agency (LEA), placed Student in a self-contained classroom operated by the Intermediate Unit (IU) and located in a building in another school district (other district). The Parent filed under the IDEA and Section 504 against the District as well as against the IU and the other district, alleging that Student was denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Both the IU and the other district, through counsel, filed motions to dismiss which the hearing officer granted, holding that only the District of residence is Student’s LEA and ultimately responsible for the provision of FAPE.

For the reasons given below I find in favor of the Parent on the majority of her claims.

Issues4

  1. Did the School District fail to offer Student FAPE in any of the following areas, including but not limited to: 5

Not providing an appropriate education in the area of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs);

Not providing a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) as specified in the IEP;

Not providing appropriate instruction in communication skills including providing appropriate augmentative communication devices;

Not continuing bilingual programming given that Student’s maternal language is not English;

Not providing, and/or providing inappropriate amounts of, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Language Therapy and Vision Therapy?

  1. Did the School District deny the Parent meaningful participation, including failing to provide documents translated into her native language, failing to provide interpretation throughout IEP meetings, and/or failing to inform her of the specific supports that Student was or was not receiving, and if so did such failures constitute a denial of FAPE for Student?
  2. If the School District denied Student FAPE in any or all these areas, what remedy is appropriate?
H-R-Easton-Area-ODRNo-17760-15-16-AS

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