MJ vs. West Chester Area School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: M.J.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: December 1, 2010; February 10, 2011

CLOSED HEARING

ODR No. 01634-1011AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

West Chester Area School District 829 Paoli Pike
West Chester, PA 19380

Representative:

Catherine Merino Reisman, Esquire Reisman Carolla Gran LLP
19 Chestnut Street
Haddonfield, NJ 08033

David T. Painter, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams LLP 331 E. Butler Avenue
P.O. Box 5069
New Britain, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: February 28, 2011

Date of Decision: March 15, 2011

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student1 is an elementary school-aged student who resides in the above-named School District (hereafter District) and is eligible for special education by reason of a specific learning disability. Student’s parents filed a due process complaint on October 6, 2010 under both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)2 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504),3 challenging the educational program offered and provided to Student by the District for the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 school years. As remedies, the Parents sought compensatory education for a portion of the 2008-09 school year (from October 6, 2008 forward), the entire 2009-10 school year, and the very beginning of the 2010-11 school year; they also sought tuition reimbursement for the 2010-11 school year.

The hearing convened over two sessions at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions. For the reasons which follow, I find in favor of the Parents in part and in favor of the District in part.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District failed to provide Student with appropriate special education programming during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, as well as the very beginning of the 2010-11 school year; and, if so, is Student entitled to compensatory education;
  2. Whether the District failed to offer Student an appropriate special education program for the 2010-11 school year; and, if so, are the Parents entitled to tuition reimbursement?
M-J-West-Chester-Area-ODRNo-01634-1011AS

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