SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
Child’s Name: J. V.
ODR File No. 16887-15-16 KE
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency Downingtown Area School District 540 Trestle Place
Downingtown, PA 19335
Ilene Young, Esquire
Ilene Young Law Offices
172 Middletown Boulevard, Suite 204 Langhorne, PA 19047
Kathleen M. Metcalfe, Esquire Sweet Stevens Katz & Williams LLP 331 Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901
Dates of Hearing: 12/14/2015, 3/29/2016, 3/30/2016, 4/26/2016
Date Record Closed: May 20, 2016
Date of Decision: May 30, 2016
Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D. Certified Hearing Official
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The student (hereafter Student)1 is a preteen, late elementary school-aged student in the Downingtown Area School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parents filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19733 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),4 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes, seeking various remedies.
The case proceeded to a due process hearing,5 and the matter proceeded with the first session devoted to the scope of the claims that the Parents sought to pursue based on the IDEA statute of limitations. Following a conclusion that the Parents’ complaint was timely filed based on the “knew or should have known” date,6 the hearing addressed the special education program implemented and offered from the start of the 2012-13 school year forward. The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with FAPE while Student attended District schools, and further failed to offer an appropriate program for the 2015-16 school year during which Student attended a private school. Remedies pursued included compensatory education and tuition reimbursement. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student, and that no relief was warranted.
For the reasons set forth below, the Parents will prevail on most, but not all, of their claims.
- Whether or not the District’s special education programs for Student were appropriate during the 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 school years, as well as the summers of 2013 and 2014;
- If any of those programs was not appropriate, is Student entitled to compensatory education and, if so, in what form and amount;
- If any of those programs was not appropriate, are the Parents entitled to reimbursement for certain expenditures;
- Whether or not the District’s special education program for Student as proposed for the 2015-16 school year was appropriate;
- If that program was not appropriate, are Student and the Parents entitled to reimbursement for tuition and related expenses for the private school placement Student attended during the 2015-16 school year; and
- Are the Parents entitled to reimbursement for an Independent Educational Evaluation?