JM vs. School District of Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: J.M.

ODR #6145/05-06 AS

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing:
January 18, 2006 – 4:00 to 8:30 pm

February 15, 2006 – 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. February 22, 2006 – 4:00 to 7:30 pm

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent

Mr. John Murphy
School District of Philadelphia
1100 East Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Ground Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19150

Representative:
David Painter, Esquire McAndrews Law Offices
30 Cassatt Avenue
Berwyn, Pennsylvania 19312

Deborah DeLauro, Esquire Office of General Counsel
440 North Broad Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130

Date Transcript Received: February 27, 2006

Date of Decision: March 6, 2006

Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D.

Background

Student is a [preteenaged] eligible student residing in the School District of Philadelphia (hereinafter District) and enrolled in the [Redacted] School, a private school for students with learning disabilities. Although Student’s mother, (hereinafter Parent) sent Student to and paid tuition for private schools from Pre-Kindergarten on, following a parentally- funded independent evaluation that found that Student had a learning disability the Parent sought an evaluation through the District to explore what the District had to offer Student. The District evaluated Student and produced a report in a timely manner in accord with statutory requirements, albeit after the Parent had already placed Student in the private school. The original IEP meeting, at which a draft IEP was presented, was aborted as the District did not have essential personnel present. The Parent asked that, rather than requiring her attendance at another IEP meeting, the District provide her with a finalized IEP for her review. Although the District had made some changes to the draft IEP available at the first IEP meeting the District did not hold an IEP meeting in the Parent’s absence to complete the IEP. Instead, an IEP that the District’s attorney characterized in writing as a draft IEP was mailed to the Parent.1 The District contends that this IEP represents the offer of a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to Student; the Parent contends that the IEP is inappropriate and requests tuition reimbursement2 for the 2005-2006 year at the private school.

Issues

  1. Did the School District offer Student a free, appropriate public education?
  2. If the School District did not offer Student a free, appropriate public education is the placement unilaterally selected by the Parent appropriate?
  3. If the School District did not offer Student a free, appropriate public education and the parentally-selected placement is appropriate, are there equitable considerations that would affect the amount of the District’s liability for tuition reimbursement?
J-M-School-District-of-Philadelphia-ODRNo-6145-05-06-AS

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