JM vs. Coatesville Area School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
Child’s Name: J. M.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR File No. 18009-16-17 KE

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Coatesville Area School District 3030 C G Zinn Road Thorndale, PA 19372

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Anita Fulwiler O’Meara, Esquire The O’Meara Law Firm, PC
915 Buck Run Road, Suite 102 East Fallowfield, PA 19320

LEA Attorney
Christina M. Stephanos, Esquire Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18601

Dates of Hearing: September 7, 2016; September 12, 2016; September 14, 2016; September 27, 2016; October 13, 2016

Date of Decision: October 31, 2016

Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is a late teenaged high school student in the Coatesville Area School District (District). Student has been identified as a protected handicapped student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19732 following an incident in October 2015 after which Student was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In July 2016, Student’s Parents filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) during the 2015-16 school year under Section 504 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),3 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes.

Specifically, the Parents claimed that the District violated Student’s rights as a child with a disability in failing to conduct appropriate evaluations of Student, including under Section 504 and in complying with its Child Find obligations under the IDEA; and in failing to develop and implement an educational program that met all of Student’s needs related to Student’s disability. The Parents sought compensatory education, reimbursement for certain expenses they incurred during the time period in question, and certain declaratory relief. The District maintained that its evaluation and educational programming were appropriate under the law and that no remedies were warranted.

The case was initially expedited because of an extended school year (ESY) issue;

however, the parties elected to proceed under the ordinary statutory and regulatory timelines, with the due process hearing convening over five sessions.4 Following review of the entire record, and for the reasons set forth below, the Parents will prevail in part and the District will prevail in part.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District conducted appropriate evaluations of Student in all areas of suspected disability and reached an appropriate conclusion on eligibility;
  2. Whether the District’s programming as developed and implemented from October 2015 through the end of the 2015-16 school year was appropriate for Student;
  3. If the District’s evaluations and/or educational programming were not appropriate, should Student be awarded compensatory education;
  4. If the District’s evaluations and/or educational programming were not appropriate, should the District be ordered to reimburse the Parents for any expenses; and
  5. Should the hearing officer order declaratory relief with respect to Student’s earned credits and attendance records?
J-M-Coatesville-Area-ODRNo-18009-16-17-KE

Leave a Reply

Pennsylvania

Montgomery Law, LLC
1420 Locust Street, Suite 420
Philadelphia, PA 19102
T/F. 215-650-7563

Rate By
SUPER LAWYERS
Joseph W Montgomery, II

New Jersey

Historic Smithville, Suite 1
1 N. New York Road
Galloway, NJ 08205
(all mail to Phila. office)
T. 856-282-5550

Disclaimer: Montgomery Law, LLC does not give legal advice until after it has entered into an attorney-client relationship. No part of this website creates an attorney-client relationship. All Parts of this website are Attorney Advertising. The photos and videos on this website contain portrayals of clients by non-clients, re-enactment of scenes, pictures and persons which are not actual or authentic and depictions which are a dramatization.