JB vs. Greater Johnstown School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: J. B.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Date of Hearing: 2/24/2015

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 15630-14-15

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency
Greater Johnstown School District 1091 Broad Street
Johnstown, PA 15906-2437

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Angela Uliana-Murphy Esq. 106 N. Franklin St., Suite 2 P.O. Box 97
Pen Argyl, PA 18072

LEA Attorney
John Kuzmiak Esq. 442 Main Street Johnstown , PA 15901

Date Record Closed: March 1, 2015

Date of Decision: March 16, 2015

Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is a pre-teenaged student in the Greater Johnstown School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 as a child with Emotional Disturbance. Student was initially identified as IDEA-eligible at the time Student first enrolled in the District in the fall of 2011, and received the majority of instruction at home rather than in school until October 2014, when the District placed Student in an approved private school (APS). Soon after the APS placement began, Student’s Parent filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it had denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA as well as the federal and state regulations implementing that Act.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over a single session, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parent sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with appropriate special education services from the time period November 2012 through the fall of 2014, and further failed to comprehensively evaluate Student. The District maintained that the Parent sought programming in the home rather than at school, and also refused to consider a residential treatment facility for Student, diminishing its ability to meet Student’s needs, and that in any event its evaluation and educational program were not inadequate.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parent, and will award compensatory education as well as an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District provided Student with an appropriate special education program from November 2012 through the start of the APS placement;
  2. If it did not provide an appropriate program, is Student entitled to compensatory education and in what amount;
  3. Whether the District has appropriately evaluated Student; and
  4. If the District has not appropriately evaluated Student, should Student be provided with an IEE at public expense?
J-B-Greater-Johnstown-ODRNo-15630-14-15

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