MH vs. Pittsburgh School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: M. H.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

OPEN HEARING
ODR File No. 17076-15-16 KE

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Pittsburgh School District 341 South Bellefield Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3516

Representative:

Parent Attorney None

LEA Attorney
Aimee Rankin Zundel, Esquire Weiss Burkardt Kramer, LLC
445 Fort Pitt Boulevard, Suite 503 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Date Record Closed: May 1, 2016

Dates of Hearing: 12/21/2015, 2/1/2016, 2/22/2016, 3/7/2016, 4/4/2016, and 4/25/2016

Date of Decision: May 16, 2016

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is a pre-teen, late elementary school-aged student in the Pittsburgh Public School District (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 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,3 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over multiple sessions.4 An Interim Ruling followed the District’s Motion to limit the scope of the claims, in which this hearing officer concluded that the District had not withheld information from the Parents that it was statutorily required to provide, and that no exception to the statute of limitations had therefore been established.5 The hearing then proceeded with the Parents seeking to establish that the District failed to provide Student with FAPE throughout the relevant time period, specifically with respect to Student’s medical, behavioral, social, and communication needs. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student.6

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

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District has failed to provide Student with an appropriate educational program during the time period in question, from November 2013 forward;
  2. Whether the District should be ordered to develop and implement a special education program for Student that includes additional behavioral, nursing, social, and academic support services; and
  3. Whether the Parents were provided with the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the development and implementation of Student’s educational program?7
M-H-Pittsburgh-ODRNo-17076-15-16-KE

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