Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: K.T.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 5/12/2015, 5/21/2015, 6/10/2015, 6/17/2015, 6/24/2015
ODR File No. 15934-14-15-AS
ODR File No. 16190-14-15-AS
Local Education Agency
School District of Philadelphia Office of General Counsel
440 N. Broad Street, Su. 313 Philadelphia, PA 19130
Parent Attorney Pro Se
Pamela Peltzman Esq.
Fox Rothschild LLP
10 Sentry Parkway, Suite 200, PO Box 3001
Blue Bell, PA 19422-3001
Date Record Closed: June 29, 2015
Date of Decision: July 17, 2015
Hearing Officer: William Culleton Esq., CHO
The Student1 is an eligible resident of the respondent District, and is a rising fifth grader. (NT 12.) The District has identified Student with Specific Learning Disability, Autism and Speech or Language Impairment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq. (IDEA). (NT 11-12.)
Parent seeks an order of the hearing officer to prevent the District’s proposed transfer of Student to a different District elementary school setting for the 2015-2016 school year. In addition, Parent asserts various violations of the IDEA spanning a period of time beginning with the 2011- 2012 school year. These include a “child find” (20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(3)) violation under the IDEA, inappropriate evaluation and identification of Student, denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and failure to include Parent in the evaluation and educational planning processes. To remedy these additional claims, Parent seeks an independent educational evaluation (IEE) and review of all records by the hearing officer.
The District denies all claims and interposes two affirmative defenses. First it asserts that a settlement agreement for a previous due process matter contained a release of all claims prior to its date of execution, November 25, 2014. Second, it asserts the bar of the IDEA’s statute of limitations.
In the companion matter, consolidated for hearing and decision, the District requested due process in its own right by filing separately. The District requests a decision that its evaluation was appropriate under the IDEA and that, consequently, Parent is not entitled by law to an IEE.
The hearing was concluded in five sessions. In the first session, I heard evidence and argument regarding whether or not a settlement agreement was entered into by the parties on November 25, 2015. In the second session, I heard evidence limited to the IDEA statute of limitations defense. In the remaining sessions, I heard evidence on the allegations of substantive IDEA violations.
At the outset of the fourth session, I granted the District’s motion to limit Parent’s claims to those not barred by the IDEA statute of limitations. (NT 716-725.) Thus, claims based upon District actions or inactions occurring prior to March 27, 2013 (two years before the date of filing of the complaint in this matter) are barred by the IDEA statute of limitations, and these claims were not heard.
The parties waived written summations, and the record closed on receipt of the last hearing session transcript, in which I admitted exhibits into evidence and heard oral summations.2 I have reviewed and considered all of the testimony and all exhibits admitted into evidence. I decide for the District and against the Parent on all issues.
- Is the Parent contractually bound by the terms of a written settlement agreement dated November 25, 2015?
- Is the District’s proposal to transfer Student to another school an inappropriate change of placement?
- Did the District fail to evaluate Student appropriately during the period from March 27, 2013 to the last day of hearings in this matter, June 24, 2015, and is Parent consequently entitled to an IEE?
- Did the District fail to provide Student with a FAPE from March 27, 2013 to the last day of hearings in this matter, June 24, 2015?
- Did the District fail to provide Parent with an appropriate opportunity to participate in the educational planning process from March 27, 2013 to the last day of hearings in this matter, June 24, 2015?
- Should the hearing officer order the District to retain Student in Student’s present elementary school setting or enter any other equitable order regarding the proposed transfer?