Special Education Hearing Officer
ODR No. 13887-1213AS
Child’s Name: I.W.
+Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 5/29/13, 8/26/13, 9/25/13, 10/9/13, 11/12/13, 11/13/13, 11/25/13,
12/17/13, 1/6/14, 1/28/14
Parties to the Hearing:
School District Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19130
Sonja Kerr, Esquire
1790 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Benjamin Hinerfeld, Esquire United Way Building, 2nd Floor 1709 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103
School District Attorney Brian Subers, Esquire
Fox, Rothschild, L.L.P.
10 Sentry Parkway, Suite 200 P.O. Box 3001
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Date Record Closed: March 3, 2014
Date of Decision: March 13, 2014
Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Student resides within the District and has been identified as IDEA eligible due to specific learning disabilities and speech/language impairment. For several years, the District placed Student at a small private school that was initially identified and requested by Parent, where Student received speech/language services, as well as instruction in reading, writing and math from special education teachers. Beginning with the 2012/2013 school year, Student also participated in a vocational training program, carpentry, at a District high school. At the time the hearing ended, Student was receiving all educational services at the District high school.
Parent filed the due process complaint in May 2013, alleging that the IEP in place was inappropriate, that the District had failed to provide Student with a FAPE and that its proposed ESY program was inappropriate. The parties settled the ESY claim on the day the expedited hearing was to be held. The hearing on the remaining issues was convened in August 2013, after the parties requested an opportunity to explore a full resolution of the dispute. When that was unsuccessful, testimony began on numerous issues and concluded in late January 2014 after 9 sessions.
Based upon the full evidentiary record, and for the reasons explained below, Parent is entitled to some, but not all, of the relief requested.
1. Has the School District failed to provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to Student for the past two school years (2011/2012, 2012/2013) and the current school year (2013/2014), in that Student did not make meaningful educational progress in reading, writing and math, based, specifically, on the following questions:
- Was the IEP of April 2012 as revised via a hearing officer decision in June 2012 procedurally and substantively appropriate and was it fully and appropriately implemented?
- Did the District fail to provide Student with an appropriate ESY program during 2012?
- Did the School District fail to provide Student with an appropriate educational placement in that there was a lack of coordination between the private school that was to provide Student’s academic instruction and the District, particularly with respect to the vocational program Student was to receive at a District high school, and/or was the split program/placement itself an inappropriate means for meeting Student’s educational needs?
- Did the School District fail to provide sufficient, appropriate related services to meet Student’s needs for transportation, speech/language and counseling?
- Did the School District fail to provide Student with appropriate assistive technology, specifically, audio books?
- Did the School District fail to address all of Student’s educational needs with appropriate, effective specially-designed instruction, including multi-sensory programs/methods?
- Has the District failed to provide appropriate transition services for student?
- Did the School District fail to timely reevaluate Student and if so, should the District be required to fund the independent neuropsychological evaluation conducted in September 2013?
- Did the District fail to comply with the LeGare Consent Decree in developing a high school placement for student?
- Did the District discriminate against Student of the basis of disability by failing to provide Student with opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities, particularly District high school level sports teams?
- Should the District be required to develop and provide Student with a one location public or private school educational placement, including effective integration between appropriate multi-sensory academic instruction in basic skills and content areas and a vocational program?
- Is Student entitled to an award of compensatory education, and if so, for what period, in what amount and what form?
- Did the School District fail to recognize and appropriately accommodate Parent’s learning disability in IEP meetings and other matters relating to developing and implementing an appropriate program and placement for Student?