MG vs. Parkland School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER DECISION

DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: M.G.

ODR #16121 / 14-15-AS

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: June 13, 2015 September 9, 2015

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Parkland School District 1210 Springhouse Road Allentown, PA 18104

Representative: Pro Se

Erin Kernan, Esquire
Eastburn and Gray
60 East Court Street PO Box 1389 Doylestown, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: September 15, 2015

Date of Decision: September 28, 2015

Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D., CHO Certified Hearing Official

Background

Student1 is an early teen-aged student residing in the District who had been identified as a qualified handicapped person / protected handicapped student under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. §794), the federal regulations implementing §504 (34 C.F.R. §§104.32— 104.37), and Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania Code. Student was educated in District schools until the end of the 2014-2015 school year, Student’s 8th grade year. The Parents have enrolled Student in a cyber charter school for the current 2015-2016 school year.

Student received 504 Service Plans (504 Plans) from the 2011-2012 school year through the 2014-2015 school year. In December 2014 the District believed that Student no longer had a qualifying disability and recommended terminating the 504 Plan; although they initially agreed, the Parents later objected and the District kept the 504 Plan in place through the end of the 2014- 2015 school year.

The Parents2 requested this hearing because they believe that Student remains eligible for a 504 Plan. They also assert that the District failed to implement and to revise the 504 Plan in the 2014-2015 school year and that this denied Student educational benefit. Further, they are requesting reimbursement for private evaluations they obtained after the District denied their request for an evaluation. Finally the Parents assert that the District discriminated against Student because of their previous advocacy on behalf of their other children.

The District argues that its recommendation that Student no longer qualifies for a 504 Plan was correct, that the 504 Plan was implemented during the 2014-2015 school year, that the 504 Plan did not require the revision Parents sought, that it was correct in declining to evaluate Student, and that the Parents are not entitled to reimbursement for the private evaluations they obtained. Further, the District denies that it engaged in discrimination against Student or the Parents.

The Parents proceeded pro se, but were accompanied by an advocate for the first session and half of the second session.

For the reasons put forth below I find in favor of the District.

Issues

  1. Did the District fail to implement Student’s 504 Plan during the 2014-2015 school year, specifically with regard to providing an FM system and preferential seating?
  2. Should the District have revised Student’s 504 Plan to include providing a quiet area for Student to take tests during the 2014-2015 school year?
  3. Did the District err in recommending that Student is no longer eligible for a 504 Plan, and if so what is Student’s disability that would qualify Student for a 504 Plan?
  4. Did the District err in not providing an educational evaluation every three years and/or refusing the Parents’ request for an educational evaluation in spring 2015 when the Parents suspected that Student had a disability that would confer eligibility for special education under the IDEA?
  5. Must the District reimburse the Parents for the cost of the private evaluations (auditory evaluation, psychological evaluation, neurological evaluation and sensory evaluation) they obtained for Student?
  6. Did the District discriminate against Student thus causing educational harm to Student?
  7. Is Student entitled to compensatory education, and if so in what form and in what amount?
M-G-Parkland-ODRNo-16121-14-15-AS

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