Special Education Hearing Officer
Student’s Name: J.F.
Date of Birth: [Redacted]
ODR No. 14281-13-14-AS
Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]
School District of Philadelphia 440 North Broad Street, Suite 313 Philadelphia PA 19130
Sarah W. Egoville, Esquire Fox Rothschild, L.L.P.
10 Sentry Parkway, Suite 200 P.O. Box 3001
Blue Bell, PA 19422-3001
Record Closed: January 7, 2014
Date of Decision: January 17, 2014
Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student named in the title page of this decision (Student) is an eligible resident of the school district named in the title page of this decision (District) and was an eligible resident of the District during the period of time relevant to this decision.(NT 19-21.) Student is identified with Emotional Disturbance and Other Health Impairment pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA). (NT 21.)
Student attended a District high school in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years; the Student’s high school closed and Student was transferred over Parent’s objection to another District high school to begin the 2013-2014 school year. After about one month, in October 2013, Parent enrolled Student in a District cyber school program called the Virtual Academy, which is operated by a private cyber school pursuant to a contract with the District. The District remains responsible for Student’s education as the IDEA local education agency. (S 20, 31.)
Parent requested due process under the IDEA, alleging that the District inappropriately disciplined Student by excluding Student for over fifteen days cumulatively without a manifestation determination, thus changing Student’s placement and failing to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Parent also alleged retaliation through the forwarding of false information to truancy and juvenile courts. Parent sought compensatory education, an order for placement in the District’s Virtual Academy, correction of school records and correction of court records.
The District asserted that the disciplinary exclusion issue had been resolved by agreement of the parties through a Bureau of Special Education Complaint Resolution, which ordered the District to provide 35.5 hours of compensatory education. The District also moved to strike the request for expedited hearing, and to dismiss the allegations regarding incorrect records and their transmission to the courts, arguing that the hearing officer does not have jurisdiction of these claims.
At the initial hearing session on October 4, 2013, the parties reported a settlement in principle, and I held the matter for two weeks anticipating a written settlement agreement. That intended settlement was not completed, and at a hearing on October 18, 2013, I dismissed all claims regarding alteration of records and transmission of incorrect records to the courts. I also concluded that there was no issue requiring expedited scheduling. In colloquy with the parties, I determined the remaining issues for hearing, which concerned placement and the provision of a FAPE in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years. (NT 104-119.)
At the hearing on December 18, 2013, the parties advised me that most of the issues had been resolved pursuant to a resolution session in October 2013; to resolve the issues, the District had agreed to provide the Student with compensatory education in an amount of 1,963.5 hours, as it stipulated on the record. (NT 171.) The Parent withdrew her request that I adjudicate the appropriateness of the placements and provision of a FAPE in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years, except for the approximately one month period of time from the first day of school in the 2013-2014 school year (September 10, 2013) until Student’s first day of class in the District’s Virtual Academy (October 8, 2013). (NT 147-161, 170-173.) However, the parties advised that they could not reach an agreement on appropriate uses of the agreed compensatory education hours, and they asked me to adjudicate that issue; I agreed to do so. (NT 170-171.)
The hearing was completed in the third session, and the record closed upon receipt of written summations. I conclude that the District did not deny Student a FAPE from September 10, 2013 to October 8, 2013, and I set forth the appropriate uses of the agreed compensatory education hours below.
- Did the District fail to offer and provide Student with an appropriate placement from September 10, 2013 until October 8, 2013?
- Did the District fail to offer and provide Student with a FAPE from September 10, 2013 until October 8, 2013?
- Should the hearing officer order the District to provide compensatory education to Student for all or any part of the period from September 10, 2013 until October 8, 2013?
- Are the uses proposed by Parent for the agreed hours of compensatory education appropriate?