Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: J.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 4/22/2015, 5/13/2015, 5/18/2015, 6/8/2015
ODR File No. 15875-14-15 AS
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency Southern Lehigh School District 5775 Main Street
Center Valley, PA 18034
Michael E. Gehring, Esq. McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. 30 Cassett Avenue
Berwyn , PA 19312
Mark W. Cheramie Walz, Esq.
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 E. Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18601
Date Record Closed: June 29, 2015
Date of Decision: July 16, 2015
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, Esq.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a high school-aged student in the Southern Lehigh School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parents 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.
Following a ruling that limited the scope of the claims to the two year period following the applicable “knew or should have known” date(s), and concluded that the Parents had presented claims only with respect to the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 school years, the case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over four sessions, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions.4 The Parent sought to establish that the District’s special education program, as offered and implemented, denied Student FAPE; and they sought compensatory education and tuition reimbursement for a private school (Private School). They also requested reimbursement for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) and a District-funded speech/language evaluation. The District maintained that its program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student and did not deny FAPE; and that there was no merit to the evaluation issues.
For the reasons that follow, I find in favor of the Parents on a portion of their claims.
- Whether the District provided an appropriate educational program to Student for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years;
- If the District did not provide an appropriate program for 2012-13 and 2013-14, whether Student is entitled to compensatory education and in what form and amount;
- Whether the District offered an appropriate educational program to Student for the 2014-15 school year;
- If the District did not offer an appropriate program for 2014-15, whether the Parents and Student are entitled to reimbursement for tuition to private school;
- Whether the Parents are entitled to reimbursement for an Independent Educational Evaluation; and
- Whether the District should provide an independent speech/language evaluation at public expense.