Special Education Hearing Officer
FINAL DECISION AND ORDER
Date of Birth:
ODR File 18629 16 17
Date of Hearing:
Marc Davies1, Esquire, Marc Davies Law, 1315 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Counsel for Parent
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District, 200 South Providence Road, Wallingford, PA 19086
Lawrence D. Dodds, Esquire, Wisler Pearlstine, LLP, Blue Bell Executive Campus, 460 Norristown Road, Suite 100, Blue Bell, PA 19422
Counsel for the School District
Date of Decision:
Brian Jason Ford, JD, CHO
This special education due process hearing concerns the educational rights of a former student (Student) of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District (District).2 The due process complaint was filed by the Student’s mother. The Student’s mother and father are divorced, but acted cohesively during the hearing. I refer to the Student’s mother and father collectively, as the Parents, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
The Parents claim that the District failed to identify the Student as a child with a disability, as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. The Parents claim that this failure ultimately led them to place the Student in a private school. The Parents now seek tuition reimbursement.
The District presents alternative arguments in its defense. First, the District argues that the Parents are not entitled to tuition reimbursement as a matter of law. Second, the District argues that the Parents did not present preponderant evidence in support of their claims.
For reasons discussed below, I agree with the District’s primary argument. The Parents are not entitled to tuition reimbursement as a matter of law. I issue no opinion regarding the appropriateness of the District’s proposed special education placement for the Student (there wasn’t one), the appropriateness of the private school that the Parents selected, or equitable factors that may impact upon a tuition reimbursement award. Rather, I find only that the Student, by operation of law, was neither a “child with a disability” as defined by the IDEA, or a “thought to be eligible” student as defined by Pennsylvania regulations at the time that the Student withdrew from public school. Consequently, the Student had no right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA at the time that the Parents placed the Student in the private school, and I must grant the District’s motion to dismiss.
Are the Parents entitled to tuition reimbursement?K-L-Wallingford-Swarthmore-ODRNo-18629-16-17