JM vs. Rose Tree Media School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

ODR No. 14330-1314 KE

Child’s Name: J.M.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 1/8/14, 4/3/14

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District
Rose Tree Media
308 North Olive Street Media, PA 19063

Representative:

Parent Attorney None

School District Attorney Gabrielle Sereni, Esquire Raffaele & Puppio, L.L.P. 19 W. Third Street Media, PA 19063

Date Record Closed: May 2, 2014

Date of Decision: May 17, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student in this case was IDEA eligible due to autism spectrum disorder until Student graduated from the District high school with a regular diploma at the end of the 2012/2013 school year. In the late summer of 2013, Parents filed their first due process complaint alleging a number of violations by the District that infringed both Parents’ and Student’s rights. During the first session of the due process hearing in that case, it became apparent that Parents wanted to pursue claims that they had not asserted in their initial complaint. Since a second due process complaint was the only procedurally appropriate means for obtaining an administrative due process hearing on the additional claims, Parents filed the complaint in this case in late September 2013, but requested that the hearing be deferred until the first case was completed.

The hearing in this case was held in two sessions in early January and early April, 2014. The second hearing session was initially deferred because Parents requested the opportunity to obtain counsel. Although Parents ultimately completed the hearing without an attorney, they notified the hearing officer and District counsel before the second scheduled hearing session that they were substantially limiting their claims, which significantly reduced the number of witnesses who could contribute relevant testimony. Both parties expressed a preference for selecting a hearing date available for all remaining witnesses in order to complete the record in one additional session.

Parents’ claims centered on alleged lapses in the District’s implementation of several IEP provisions, but they produced no substantive evidence of any actual, not speculative, educational harm to Student as a result of the alleged violations. Consequently, even if Parents’ position that the violations occurred were entirely accepted and the District’s defenses entirely rejected, the record provides no basis for the compensatory education Parents requested on behalf of Student.

ISSUES

  1. Did the School District violate Student’s IEPs during the 2011/2012 and/or 2012/2013 school years by failing to:
  1. Provide all of the psychological counseling services specified in the IEP during the 2012/3103 school year;
  2. Provide a “peer buddy;”
  3. Assure that Student participated in “job shadowing;”
  4. Assure that Student’s after school aide implemented Student’s social skills goals?
  1. If the District violated Student’s IEPs, did such violations result in a denial of FAPE to Student?
  2. If the District violated Student’s IEPs and if such violations amounted to a denial of FAPE, is Student entitled to an award of compensatory education, and if so, in what amount and in what form.
J-M-Rose-Tree-Media-ODRNo-14330-1314-KE

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