IS vs. Columbia Borough School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: I.S.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing:

January 29, 2015 February 5, 2015

CLOSED HEARING

ODR Case # 15762-1415AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Columbia Borough School District 200 N. Fifth Street
Columbia, PA 17512

Representative:

Ilene Young, Esquire
172 Middletown Boulevard Suite 204
Langhorne, PA 19047

Jeffrey Champagne, Esquire Elizabeth Daniels, Esquire 100 Pine Street
P.O. Box 1166

Harrisburg, PA 17108-1166

Date Record Closed: February 5, 2015

Date of Decision: February 21, 2015

Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student1 is an early teen-age student residing in the Columbia Borough School District (“District”) who has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”) and Pennsylvania special education regulations as a student with an emotional disturbance.2 Pursuant to District’s authority to make a unilateral out-of-district placement resulting from a serious infraction under the District’s student code of conduct, the District implemented a unilateral 45-day change in placement for the student in an alternative education setting.

The District conducted a manifestation determination review, finding that the behavioral incident was not caused by, or did not have a direct and substantial relationship to, the student’s disability under the IDEIA, and was not a result of the failure to implement the student’s individualized education plan (“IEP”). Parent disagreed with the manifestation determination result and filed a special education due process complaint on January 6, 2015, seeking to have the student returned to the District. Parent also seeks, as part of the order, an independent educational evaluation (“IEE”) for the student.

Because parent’s complaint regards a disciplinary change in placement, this decision is on an expedited timeline. (34 C.F.R. §300.532(c); 22 PA CODE §14.162(q)(4)). The hearing was conducted in two sessions over January 29 and February 5, 2015. The decision is due within ten school days of the hearing. (34 C.F.R.§300.532(c)(2)). District personnel confirmed, at the end of the hearing, that based on the District’s school calendar, the 10-school day timeline expires on February 23, 2015.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the parent regarding the result of the manifestation determination review. The order will contain provisions for an IEE under the hearing officer’s authority as granted by 34 C.F.R. §300.502(d)/22 PA Code §14.102(a)(2)(xxix).

ISSUE

Should the result of the manifestation determination be upheld?

I-S-Columbia-Borough-ODRNo-15762-1415AS

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