JP vs. Wissahickon School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: J. P.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing:

April 25, 2013 June 17, 2013 June 27, 2013 July 16, 2013 July 31, 2013

OPEN HEARING
ODR Case # 13530-1213AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parents

Wissahickon School District 601 Knight Road
Ambler, PA 19002

Representative:

Judith Gran, Esq. Reisman Carolla Gran LLP 19 Chestnut Street Haddonfield, NJ 08033

Scott Wolpert, Esq. Timoney Knox LLP 400 Maryland Drive P.O. Box 7544

Fort Washington, PA 19034

Date Record Closed: August 19, 2013

Date of Decision: August 27, 2013

Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[Student] (“student”) is a [teenaged] student residing in the Wissahickon School District (“District”) who has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEA”)1. The student, diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, has been identified under the terms of IDEA as a student with an intellectual disability. Parent claims the program and placement proposed in a January 2013 individualized education plan (“IEP”) for the student is not reasonably calculated to provide the student with a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) in the least restrictive requirement (“LRE”), as required under IDEA and Pennsylvania special education regulations. Additionally, parents claim that the District has violated its obligations to the student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”).2

More specifically, the parents claim that the District has failed to consider and/or employ a full constellation of supplemental aids and services to allow the student to remain fully included in regular education settings. Parents also specifically claim that the District’s handling of the student’s involvement with [an extracurricular activity] amounts to discriminatory behavior in violation of Section 504.

The District counters that the program proposed in the January 2013 IEP is reasonably calculated to provide FAPE in the LRE. Its position is that the program and placement, in which the student would receive instruction in a special education setting for 4.3 hours over the course of the school’s 6-day instructional cycle, is not only reasonably calculated to provide FAPE to the student but is necessary for the student to continue to make educational progress. Additionally, the District denies that it has, in any way, engaged in discriminatory acts or omissions regarding any aspect of the student’s educational life at the District, whether during the school day or in after-school activities. Finally, the District argues that the parties have exhausted any chance of collaborative decision-making by the student’s IEP team and asks the hearing officer, in fashioning an order that involves the IEP team, to be more explicit and directive than he might normally be.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the parents and student on the LRE issue and in favor of the District regarding Section 504 discrimination claims. The order will also contain certain explicit directives to the student’s IEP team.

ISSUES

Is the program/placement as proposed in the January 2013 IEP reasonably calculated to provide FAPE in the LRE?

Did the District engage in discriminatory acts and/or omissions in violation of its Section 504 obligations?

Are explicit directives to the student’s IEP team required?

J-P-Wissahickon-ODRNo-13530-1213AS

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