JE vs. Pocono Mountain School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: J.E.

ODR #17039 / 15-16 AS

Date of Birth:

[redacted]

Dates of Hearing: January 11, 2016 March 11, 2016 March 14, 2016

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Pocono Mountain School District 135 Pocono Mountain School Road Swiftwater, PA 18370

Representative:
Heather Hulse, Esquire McAndrews Law Offices 30 Cassatt Avenue Berwyn, PA 19380

Glenna Hazeltine, Esquire
King, Spry, Herman, Freund and Faul One West Broad Street Suite 700 Bethlehem, PA 18018

Date Record Closed: April 26, 2016

Date of Decision: May 16, 2016

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

Background

Student1 is an early-teen-aged eligible student whose adoptive Parent (Parent) is a District (District) resident, and for whose educational programming the District was responsible until late May 2015 when Student was placed in a court-ordered residential treatment facility outside the District. Student had originally been found eligible for special education pursuant to the IDEA2 under the classifications of emotional disturbance and speech/language impairment; an independent psychoeducational evaluator recently added the classifications of other health impairment (ADHD) and specific learning disabilities. In light of Student’s disabilities, Student is also a qualified handicapped person / protected handicapped student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)3. The Parent requested this hearing under the IDEA and Section 504, alleging that the District denied Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to address Student’s academic, social, emotional and behavioral needs appropriately, and seeking compensatory education from the 2009-2010 school year until the time Student left the District. The District maintains that it provided Student with FAPE at all times relevant to this matter. In a prehearing ruling on the District’s Motion to Limit Claims, the hearing officer found the relevant period for the hearing to be the 2013-2014 school year and the 2014-2015 school year up to the time Student left the District.

After carefully considering the testimony and credibility of each witness, the documents entered into evidence, and the parties’ written closing arguments, for the reasons stated below I find for the Parent on some, but not all, aspects of her issues

Issues

  1. Did the District fail to appropriately evaluate Student in October 2012?4
  2. Did the District deny Student a free, appropriate public education during the 2013-2014 and/or the 2014-2015 school year[s]?
  3. If the District denied Student a free, appropriate public education, is Student entitled to compensatory education and if so in what form and what amount?
J-E-Pocono-Mountain-ODRNo-17039-15-16-AS

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