SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
Child’s Name: J. T.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: October 18 and October 21, 2011
ODR File No. 2199-1112AS
Parties to the Hearing: [Parent]
Keystone Oaks School District 1000 Kelton Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Jeni Hergenreder, Esquire Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania
429 Fourth Avenue, Suite 701 Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Aimee Rankin Zundel, Esquire Law Offices of Ira Weiss
445 Fort Pitt Boulevard, Suite 503 Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Date Record Closed: November 18, 2011
Date of Decision: December 3, 2011
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
A student (hereafter Student)1 is an elementary school-aged student in the Keystone Oaks School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 on the basis of a specific learning disability and a speech/language impairment. The Parents of Student and [redacted] other eligible students in the District filed a single due process complaint against the District in August 2011, asserting that the District’s proposed plan to relocate the placement of all [redacted] children for the 2011-12 school year was inappropriate under the IDEA, as well as discriminatory under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).3
The case proceeded to a closed due process hearing convening over two sessions, at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parents of each child expressly consented to convening a single hearing for all [redacted] students, and all agreed that the hearing would be closed.4 The Parents collectively sought to establish that the District’s decision to revise its special education plan and centralize its learning support services at the elementary level into one elementary school amounted to discriminatory exclusion of their children from their neighborhood schools on the basis of their disabilities, and was made without parental input and without regard to the students’ individual needs. The District, for its part, asserted that its decision was made in response to valid concerns with overall academic proficiency, declining enrollment, a decrease in the number of students exhibiting a need for special education, and an effort to effectuate compliance with state regulations regarding permissible age ranges in special education classrooms.
For the reasons which follow, I find in favor of the Parents on their principle claim, and in favor of the District on the remaining claims.
Whether the District’s decision to change the location of special education services from a particular elementary school to another elementary school in the District constituted a change in educational placement under the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA?J-T-Keystone-Oaks-ODRNo-2199-1112AS