SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
Child’s Name: J.P.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR File No. 18110-16-17 KE
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency Philadelphia City School District Office of General Counsel Philadelphia, PA 19130
Parent Attorney None
Judith Baskin, Esquire Office of General Counsel 440 N Broad Street Suite 313 Philadelphia, PA 19130
Date of Hearing: October 19, 2016
Date of Decision: October 29, 2016
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a pre-teenaged student who resides in the School District of Philadelphia (District) and is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parent filed a Due Process Complaint against the District asserting that it failed to comply with the procedural protections afforded to Student under the IDEA, thereby denying Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. Student currently attends a charter school.
Upon assignment of the case to this hearing officer, she sent the parties informational materials that included, among other things, the timelines applicable to special education due process hearings with references to the federal regulations that set forth events that could result in adjustment to those timelines. The specific decision due date calculated from the date of the filing of the Complaint was also provided to both parties. After an unopposed continuance requested by the Parent, and a further rescheduling of the hearing without objection due to a District closure for a school holiday, the hearing convened on October 19, 2016, in a proceeding consolidated with that of Student’s sibling by agreement of the parties. It became evident during discussions on and off the record that both parties intended to call witnesses who were not available on the date of the hearing. However, neither party moved for an extension of the
decision due date as permitted by 34 C.F.R. § 300.515(c), and it was not possible to schedule an agreeable date for a second hearing session within the mandatory timelines.3 Accordingly, the record was concluded in a single hearing session.
The parties each presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parent sought to establish that the District failed to comply with its procedural obligations under the IDEA,4 including the timeliness of its evaluation of, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) development for, Student; she sought compensatory education for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years and placement in a different school that would be appropriate for Student’s needs. The District maintained that any procedural irregularities, including the delayed evaluation, did not deny Student FAPE, and that no remedy was due.
For the reasons set forth below, the Parent will prevail on the procedural issues, but there will be no remedy awarded.
- Whether the District complied with its procedural obligations to Student under the IDEA, including the timeliness of its evaluation of Student and proposed educational program, during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years;
- If the District did not comply with its procedural obligations to Student, should Student be awarded a remedy such as compensatory education; and
- Should the hearing officer order the District to provide a placement to Student in a different school that will meet Student’s needs?