Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: M.F.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 2/26/2015 and 3/10/2015
ODR File No. 15777-14-15-KE
Parties to the Hearing:
Local Education Agency Green Woods Charter School 468 Domino Lane Philadelphia, PA 19128
David Arnold Esq.
920 Matsonford Road
West Conshohocken, PA 19428 610-397-0722
David Annecharico Esq. 113 South 21st Street Philadelphia, PA 19103 215-851-0200
Date Record Closed: March 31, 2015
Date of Decision: April 18, 2015
Hearing Officer: William Culleton Esq., CHO
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Student1 is an eligible child with a disability pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA), and a qualified individual with a disability protected by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 (section 504). (NT 24-26, 203-210.) Student is identified under the IDEA as a child with a disability of autism, 34 C.F.R. §300.8(c)(1). (NT 25, 48.) Student is qualified and eligible to be enrolled at the Charter School (Charter), and remains enrolled at the Charter, which placed Student in an approved private school (APS) for third grade pursuant to an Individualized Education Program (IEP). (NT 26, 49, 210.)
Parents assert that the Charter failed to offer or provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to Student for third and fourth grades by failing to offer an appropriate placement when the APS was unable to meet Student’s educational needs in third grade. Parents removed Student from the APS and placed Student unilaterally in a private school (School) of Parents’ choice for fourth grade; however, Parents did not disenroll Student from the Charter, which remains Student’s local education authority (LEA) responsible for Student’s placement and IEP. Parents seek compensatory education for Student’s third grade year (2013-2014 school year), and reimbursement of the School’s tuition for Student’s fourth grade year (2014-2015 school year), until the end of that year or until the Charter provides an appropriate placement. The Charter denies the Parents’ allegations, and asserts that it has provided an appropriate placement at a different private school (referred to here as Alternate). It also asserts that Parents should not be reimbursed for the School’s tuition because Parents did not provide the Charter with notice of their unilateral placement as required by the IDEA.
The hearing was completed in two sessions. I conclude that the Charter failed to offer or provide Student with a FAPE from February 1, 2014 to the closing of the record in this matter. I order the Charter to provide Student with compensatory education and tuition reimbursement for services provided by the School.
1. Did the Charter provide a FAPE to Student during the relevant period from the first day of school until the last day of school in the 2013-2014 school year at the APS?
2. Did the Charter offer an appropriate placement and a FAPE to Student from the first day of school in the 2014-2015 school year until the last hearing date?
3. Was the School an appropriate placement for Student in the 2014-2015 school year?
4. Considering the equities, should the hearing officer order the Charter to reimburse Parents for the School’s tuition for the 2014-2015 school year, or until the Charter should offer an appropriate placement to Student?
5. Should the hearing officer order the Charter to convene an IEP team meeting to review the latest re-evaluation report and offer an appropriate placement to Student along with any other educational services?
6. Should the hearing officer order the Charter to provide Student with compensatory education for or on account of all or any part of the 2013-2014 school year?