JC vs. Unionville-Chadds Ford School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: J.C.

ODR #18218 / 16-17-KE

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: November 15, 2016 December 5, 2016 January 9, 2017 January 11, 2017

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Unionville-Chadds Ford School District 740 Unionville Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Representative:
Stephen Kelly, Esquire
Brutscher, Foley, Milliner & Land 213 East State Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Anne Hendricks, Esquire
Levin Legal Group
1301 Masons Mill Business Park 1800 Byberry Road
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Date of Decision: April 9, 2017

Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D., CHO Certified Hearing Official

Background

Student1 is a late-teen aged District resident who is currently completing a 13th year at a private school (Private School) unilaterally selected by the Parents. Student was previously identified as being eligible for special education under the classification of specific learning disability but with parental consent was exited from special education toward the end of the10th grade (2013-2014). Student experienced academic difficulties in 11th grade (2014-2015), and academic achievement severely declined from the beginning of the 12th grade (2015-2016). The District’s response in 12th grade was to initiate RTI in October 2015 and Student remained in RTI up to the time of a serious incident that occurred on February 25, 2016. Pursuant to the incident the District offered a placement (Proposed Placement) which the Parents rejected in favor of a private placement. After the incident the District conducted a reevaluation and found Student eligible for special education under the primary classification of emotional disturbance.

The Parents asked for this hearing, seeking tuition reimbursement for the Private School as well as compensatory education.2 The District maintains that it offered Student FAPE at all times, that the Proposed Placement was appropriate, and that no remedy is due. For the reasons below I find for the Parents in part and for the District in part.

Issues3

  1. Did the District deny Student FAPE from the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year through the time when the Parents effected their unilateral placement?
  2. Was the placement the District proposed following the February 2016 incident appropriate?
  3. If the District’s proposed placement was not appropriate, is the Parents’ unilaterally selected placement appropriate?
  4. If the District’s proposed placement was not appropriate, and the Parents’ unilaterally selected placement is appropriate, are there equitable considerations that would remove or limit the District’s responsibility to reimburse the Parents the cost of tuition at their unilaterally selected placement?
  5. Should the District be required to reimburse the Parents for an Independent Education Evaluation they procured for Student?
J-C-Unionville-Chadds-Ford-ODRNo-18218-16-17-KE

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