IM vs. Philadelphia City School

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: I. M.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 16189-14-15 KE

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Philadelphia City School District Office of General Counsel Philadelphia, PA 19130

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Jennifer Y. Sang, Esquire
David J. Berney, Esquire
Law Offices of David J. Berney 1628 JFK Boulevard, Suite 1000 Philadelphia, PA 19103

LEA Attorney
Shannon R. Pierce, Esquire Brian E. Subers, Esquire
Fox Rothschild LLP
10 Sentry Parkway, Suite 200 P.O. Box 3001
Blue Bell, PA 19422

Date Record Closed: 6/22/2015, 8/19/2015, 9/17/2015, 9/30/2015, 11/12/2015, 11/18/2015, 12/8/2015, 12/23/2015

Dates of Hearing: January 4, 2016

Date of Decision: January 8, 2016

Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is an early elementary school-aged student in the School District of Philadelphia (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student attended a District program in the fall of 2013 through the end of October 2014, after which Student was provided a home-based program arranged by the Parent without involvement by the District. Student’s Parent filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied 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, during the time period in question, May 1, 2014 through the present.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over multiple sessions, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions.4 The Parent sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with FAPE throughout the time it implemented its educational program for Student, and requested compensatory education; she also sought reimbursement for the expense incurred in providing Student with the home-based program. These remedies were requested to be provided in the form of a special needs trust. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student; and that no remedy was due.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parent.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District proposed and implemented an appropriate program to meet Student’s needs;
  2. If the District did not offer and implement an appropriate program for Student, are the Student and Parent entitled to compensatory education (for the period of May 1, 2014 through October 31, 2014) and reimbursement for the cost of Student’s home-based program (from November 1, 2014 through the present);
  3. If the Student and Parent are entitled to compensatory education and/or reimbursement, should the remedy be provided in the form of a special needs trust?
I-M-Philadelphia-City-ODRNo-16189-14-15-KE

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