JC vs. Penn Hills School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION

Child’s Name: J. C.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 18419-16-17AS

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Penn Hills School District 260 Aster Street Pittsburgh, PA 15235-3839

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Jonathan D. Steele, Esquire Steele Schneider
428 Forbes Avenue, Suite 700 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

LEA Attorney
Chelsea Dice, Esquire
Bruce Dice & Associates, P.C. 787 Pine Valley Drive, Suite E Pittsburgh, PA 15239

Dates of Hearing: February 10, 2017; February 17, 2017; March 27, 2017

Date of Decision: April 15, 2017

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is a late pre-teenaged student in the Penn Hills School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 as a child with a primary classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Student’s Parent3 filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA, as well as the applicable federal and state regulations, from the time Student entered middle school and continuing through the present. Notably, the Parent challenged the District’s decision in the spring of 2016 to revise its Special Education Plan in a manner that impacted Student’s programming.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over three sessions,4 with the parties also providing a number of stipulated facts. The Parent sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with FAPE throughout that time period, and requested compensatory education as a remedy. The District maintained that its special education program, as developed and implemented, was appropriate for Student, and that no relief was due.

For the reasons set forth below, the Parent’s claims will be granted in part.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District denied Student FAPE from the start of the 2014-15 school year through the date of this decision;
  2. If the District did deny FAPE to Student for any of that time period, should Student be awarded compensatory education?
J-C-Penn-Hills-ODRNo-18419-16-17AS

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