Special Education Hearing Officer

Child’s Name: M.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

Date of Hearing: March 6, 2014


ODR File No. 14593-1314KE

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District
North Hills School District 135 6th Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15229


Charles E. Steele, Esquire Steele Schneider
Lawyers Building
428 Forbes Ave., Suite 700 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Michael J. Witherel, Esquire Witherel & Associates
966 Perry Highway Pittsburgh, PA 15237

Date Record Closed: March 11, 2014

Date of Decision: March 26, 2014

Hearing Officer: Cathy A. Skidmore, M.Ed., J.D.


Student1 is an elementary school-aged student in the North Hills School District (hereafter 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, as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing which convened in a single session,3 at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with FAPE with respect to Student’s communication and behavioral needs for the time period in question. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parents.


  1. Whether the District denied Student FAPE during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years by failing to appropriately program for Student’s communication and behavioral needs; and
  2. If it did so, is Student entitled to compensatory education and, if so, in what amount?

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