JH vs. Upper Darby School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: J.H.

ODR #15047 / 13-14-KE

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Date of Hearing: July 21, 2014

OPEN HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Upper Darby School District 4611 Bond Avenue
Drexel Hill, PA 19026

Representative: Pro Se

Scott Gottel, Esquire Holsten & Associates One Olive Street Media, PA 19063

Date Transcript Received: July 25, 2014

Date of Decision: July 26, 2014

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

Background

Student1 is a teen-aged student who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA] and Pennsylvania Chapter 14 under the classification of Other Health Impairment because of an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The current matter concerns a due process request from the District in response to the Guardian’s request for an Independent Educational Evaluation [IEE] at public expense. The Guardian filed a separate due process request alleging denial of FAPE. 2 Although the matters were initially consolidated, rather than have the IEE complaint decided later along with the FAPE complaint the hearing officer offered, and the parties agreed upon, a separate abbreviated final written decision on the IEE complaint. The parties were also offered the opportunity to receive the hearing officer’s determination immediately rather than wait for the abbreviated decision and they accepted this offer whereupon an order was issued on the record.

Prior to commencing the hearing two threshold matters were addressed, the District’s alleged failure to provide the Guardian with Student’s complete educational records and the limitations period for the due process complaint filed by the Guardian.3

Records: After taking testimony from the Guardian and the Director of Special Education, the hearing officer determined that copies of test protocols would not be provided directly to the Guardian unless she designated properly credentialed professionals to receive the copies. In lieu of this process, the appropriate District personnel were required to remain at the hearing location and go over the protocols with the Guardian in detail. Testimony from the Director of Special Education credibly established that she personally searched for any and all additional records that might be in the District’s possession and found none. She testified that past information that was electronically posted on the Parent Portal was no longer available, as that information is updated on an ongoing basis. This witness also credibly testified that AIMS Web and MCAP raw data was not able to be located but that any information regarding these progress monitoring/assessment tools would be in the IEP. Weekly Social Skills Training reports, if they exist, were not able to be located, and the staff person responsible for providing that training did not respond to an email or a voicemail request from the Director of Special Education. A subpoena will be issued to that individual requiring production of records or testimony as why records do not exist. Finally, explanatory information about the Tiers Program was copied and provided to the Guardian at the hearing; it is noted that this is not part of Student’s educational records but is made available on the District’s website. [NT 15-27]

An evidentiary hearing was held regarding the limitations period governing the scope of the hearing on the Guardian’s due process complaint. The hearing officer determined that neither of the two exceptions to the IDEA’s two-year limitations period exists and made this ruling on the record. Therefore the period that will be addressed in the subsequent hearing regarding this Student will be from May 16, 2012 to the first hearing date in September 2014. [NT 27-60]

Issue

Did the District conduct an appropriate re-evaluation of Student?

J-H-Upper-Darby-ODRNo-15047-13-14-KE

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