JN vs. School District Penn-Delco

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

ODR No. 14119-1314 KE

Child’s Name: J. N.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 9/24/13, 10/11/13, 10/25/13, 11/11/13

11/13/13, 11/19/13, 12/3/13, 12/4/13, 12/6/13

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District Penn-Delco
2821 Concord Road Aston, PA 19014

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Judith Gran, Esquire
Freeman, Carolla, Reisman & Gran 19 Chestnut Street
Haddonfield, NJ 08033-1810

School District Attorney Gabrielle Sereni, Esquire Raffaele & Puppio
19 West Third Street Media, PA 19063

Date Record Closed: December 24, 2013

Date of Decision: January 5, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student in this case is affected by several disabilities resulting in global developmental delays, speech/language deficits, motor skill deficits, attention, learning and behavior difficulties. Student requires intensive special education and related services for disability-related needs.

From the time Student transitioned from pre-school to school-age services until the 2012/2013 school year, both parties agree that Student’s public school placements were unsatisfactory. For the 2012/2013 school year, the District proposed placing Student in its newly formed multiple disabilities support (MDS) class, which Parents rejected, resulting in a due process complaint that was ultimately settled by the District funding tuition at the private school Parents selected. In the spring of 2013, when the parties met to develop an IEP for the current school year, the District again proposed an IEP for placement in its MDS class which Parents again rejected, resulting in the current due process complaint for tuition reimbursement for the same private school.

The evidence compiled during a nine session hearing conducted between the end of September and beginning of December 2013 established Parents’ sincere belief that the private school is the best place for addressing Student’s complex and extensive speech/language needs. The evidence also revealed Parents’ deep misgivings about the composition of the District’s MDS class and their conviction that it is not the best place for Student. The evidence did not, however, establish that the District cannot provide an appropriate educational placement for Student in its MDS class. Parents, therefore, cannot prevail on their tuition reimbursement claim. The District, however, will be directed to take steps to alleviate Parents’ concerns with respect to the adequacy of the District’s speech/language services if/when Parents accept the District’s MDS placement.

ISSUES

Are Parents entitled to an award of full tuition reimbursement for the 2013/2014 school year for the private school in which they unilaterally placed Student because:

  1. The School District did not offer an appropriate program and placement for Student for the current school year;
  2. The private school in which Parents unilaterally placed Student is providing an appropriate program and placement;
  3. There are no equitable reasons for denying or reducing tuition reimbursement?
J-N-Penn-Delco-ODRNo-14119-1314-KE

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