MD vs. Avon Grove School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 1711-1011AS

Child’s Name: M. D.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 7/21/11, 10/3/11, 10/5/11, 10/10/11

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents [Parents]

School District
Avon Grove
375 South Jennersville Road West Grove, PA 19390

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Michael Connolly, Esquire Connolly, Jacobson & John 188 North Main Street Doylestown, PA 18901

School District Attorney
Karl Romberger, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams 331 Butler Avenue, P.O. Box 5069 New Britain, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: November 2, 2011

Date of Decision: November 17, 2011

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student in this case attended school in the District very briefly, from kindergarten through the middle of 1st grade. Significant academic and behavior difficulties in kindergarten prompted a multidisciplinary evaluation that resulted in the conclusion that Student was not IDEA eligible, although the District did offer a §504 Service Agreement.

Student’s difficult behaviors continued in 1st grade, with numerous disciplinary “time- outs” and minimal academic progress at best, leading Parents to enroll Student in a private school after the winter holiday. A second evaluation requested by Parents a few months later again resulted in the District concluding that Student was not IDEA eligible.

Student continued in the private school through 3rd grade, still exhibiting serious behavior issues. During the summer between 3rd and 4th grades, an independent evaluation identified a number of deficits that the evaluator attributed to language-based learning disabilities. The District then conducted a third evaluation, concluded that Student is IDEA eligible and offered an IEP, but Parents rejected it.

In April 2011 Parents filed a due process complaint seeking tuition reimbursement for the 2 years immediately preceding the date of the due process complaint, and continuing until the District offers an appropriate program and placement, as well as reimbursement for the 2010 IEE. The due process hearing was conducted in 4 sessions between July and October 2011. Although the District should have concluded that Student was a child with a disability after the 2008 evaluation at the latest, and offered special education services, tuition reimbursement must be denied for the period April 2009 to December 2010 because the private school was not an appropriate placement. For the same reason, tuition reimbursement is also denied from December 2010 forward.

ISSUES

  1. Did the School District fail to timely identify Student as IDEA eligible and thereby fail to provide Student with a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) prior to December 2010?
  2. Did the School District fail to offer Student an appropriate IEP after Student was identified as IDEA eligible in December 2010 and thereby deny Student a FAPE from that point to the present?
  3. Are Parents entitled to reimbursement of the costs of educating Student in the private school they selected beginning April 15, 2009 and continuing through the present?
M-D-Avon-Grove-ODRNo-1711-1011AS

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