SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER
DECISION ON REMAND DUE PROCESS HEARING
Name of Child: LC
ODR #5713/05-06 KE
Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx
Parties to the Hearing: Parent
School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
Frederick Stanczak, Esquire
179 North Broad Street Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18901
Kenneth Cooper, Esquire
Office of General Counsel School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad Street 3rd Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
Date Record Closed: January 28, 2007
Date of Decision: February 11, 2007
Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D.
Student graduated from a School District of Philadelphia (hereinafter District) high school in June 2004. From kindergarten on Student had been identified as an eligible student with learning disabilities in need of learning support. At a due process hearing held on November 1, 2005 and December 21, 2005 Ms. xx, Student’s mother (hereinafter Parent) asserted that Student had never been provided with a free appropriate public education (FAPE), specifically in the areas of reading and mathematics, during the entire time Student was a student in the District. The Parent also asserted that Student was not provided with an appropriate transition plan from the time Student turned 16 years old, and that this continued to be a detriment to Student as of the time of the hearing. The Parent was requesting compensatory education for the alleged denial of FAPE for the 2000-2001 through the 2004-2005 school years1. The District asserted that it provided Student with special education programs designed to meet Student needs and that Student made “steady progress although …not substantial progress” (NT 13). The District also asserted that it provided Student with a vocational program in high school to aid Student’s transition. The District held that in considering any compensatory education award the hearing officer was bound by the limitations established by Montour School District v. S.T., 805 A.2d 29, 40 (Commw. Ct. 2002).
For reasons which are explained in the original decision, but which will not be recounted here, the parties agreed that the date of an original due process request that did not result in a hearing would be honored. That date, April 6, 2005, was prior to the implementation date of the IDEIA (IDEA 2004)2 and therefore, following Montour this hearing officer limited recovery to one year from the filing date, that is back to April 5, 2004. However, the parties were allowed to present evidence going back further than April 5, 2004 so that the record would be available for later review if necessary.
In a January 15, 2006 decision this hearing officer addressed the specific period from April 5, 2004 until April 6, 2005. However, as Student graduated from high school in June 2004, the period of recovery was therefore limited to the period from April 5, 2004 through the end of the 2003-2004 school year in June 2004, a period of 45 school days. Finding that the District had not offered Student a free, appropriate public education during the period under consideration, this hearing officer awarded Student compensatory education. The Pennsylvania Special Education Appeals Panel affirmed the decision (Opinion No. 1700, February 2006).
On October 26, 2006, the parties met with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and entered into a stipulated order for remand to the special education hearing officer. The Office for Dispute Resolution received a copy of the Stipulation and Order on January 23, 2007 and electronically forwarded it, along with the hearing transcripts, to this hearing officer. The documents used in the hearing were sent to this hearing officer in a hard copy version by mail and arrived the evening of January 28, 2007.
The Stipulation and Order remands the matter to the administrative process “to determine the entitlement, if any, of Student to compensatory education prior to April 6, 2004, as well as the nature and amount of any such compensatory education award”.
Although the remand order could be interpreted to require going back to the beginning of Student’s education in the District, as a practical and equitable matter, and in accord with the Parent’s original complaint, this decision will address school years 2000-2001, 2001- 2002, 2003-2004, and the portion of 2004-2005 not addressed in the original decision, that is, up through April 5, 2005.
In addressing this issue the following questions will be considered:
- Did the District offer Student a free appropriate public education in the area of reading?
- Did the District offer Student a free appropriate public education in the area of mathematics?
- Did the District offer Student a free appropriate public education in the area of transition planning?