SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
Child’s Name: J.G.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR File No. 17958-15-16 KE
Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]
Local Education Agency
Hampton Township School District 4591 School Drive
Allison Park, PA 15101
Jeni Hergenreder, Esquire Andrew Favini, Esquire Disability Rights Pennsylvania 429 Fourth Avenue, Suite 701 Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Patricia R. Andrews, Esquire Matthew J. Allen, Esquire Andrews & Price
1500 Ardmore Boulevard Pittsburgh, PA 15221
Dates of Hearing: November 16 and 17, 2016
Date of Decision: December 20, 2016
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M. Ed., J.D.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a post-teenaged student who resides in the Hampton Township School District (hereafter District). Student attended the District high school for four years and participated in graduation with Student’s peers at the end of the 2015-16 school year, but remains eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 on the basis of an Intellectual Disability. At the Parents’ request, Student’s educational program in high school focused on academic instruction with limited transitional services until the program proposed for the 2016-17 school year.
Following development of a new IEP in May 2016, Student’s Parents filed a Due Process Complaint against the District asserting that its proposed program for the 2016-17 school year did not offer Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA. With the agreement of the District, the Parents amended their Complaint in late August 2016, seeking reimbursement for tuition expenses they have been and are obligated to pay for a privately- secured placement for Student in a post-secondary vocational-educational program (hereafter Program) at a local university for the 2016-17 school year.
The case ultimately proceeded to a due process hearing convening over two sessions.3 The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to offer an appropriate program to Student for the 2016-17 school year, particularly with respect to post-secondary transition services, in the least restrictive environment. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered in May 2016, was appropriate for Student under the law and responsive to Student’s needs, and that no remedy was warranted.
For the reasons set forth below, the Parents’ claims will be denied.
- Whether the District’s program proposed for Student for the 2016-17 school year is appropriate under applicable law, particularly with respect to post-secondary transition services;
- If the District’s proposed program is not appropriate, whether the program chosen by the Parents is appropriate for Student’s needs; and
- If the first two issues are resolved in favor of the Parents, whether equitable considerations should be applied to reduce any award of tuition reimbursement and related expenses?