MK vs. Methacton School District

Pennsylvania

Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: M. K.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR No. 16803-15-16-KE

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Methacton School District 1001 Kriebel Mill Road Norristown, PA 19403-1047

Representative:

John C. Bogan, Esquire
Jason Fortenberry, Esquire Frankel & Kershenbaum, LLC 1230 County Line Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Christina M. Stephanos, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz and Williams, LLP 331 East Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901

Dates of Hearing: October 29, 2015, December 4, 2015, December 8, 2015, December 9, 2015

Record Closed: January 11, 2016

Date of Decision: January 26, 2016

Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire, CHO

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The child named in this matter (Student)1 is an eligible resident of the District named in this matter (District), and is classified as a child with the disability of Other Health Impairment, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA). Student attends high school at a private school for children with learning differences (School). Student has attended the School for two years at the District’s expense, pursuant to an agreement in settlement of previous parental claims.

Student’s mother and father (Parents)2 filed this due process request in September 2015, asserting that the District had failed to offer Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) as required by the IDEA, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 (section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12131(2) (ADA)3. Parents requested that the hearing officer order the District to reimburse them for tuition that they had paid to the School for Student’s education during the 2015-2016 school year.

The District denied the Parents’ allegations, asserting that it had offered to provide Student with a FAPE for the 2015-2016 school year, that the School is an inappropriate placement for Student, and that Parents failed to negotiate with the District in good faith after it had provided a re-evaluation report recommending Student’s return to the District for this school year.

The due process hearing was completed in four sessions. I have determined the credibility of all witnesses and I have considered and weighed all of the evidence of record. I find in favor of the District and decline to order it to reimburse Parents for private school tuition.

ISSUES

  1. Did the District’s offer, embodied in the August 25, 2015 Individualized Education Program (IEP), constitute an offer to provide Student with a FAPE?
  2. Is the School an appropriate placement for Student?
  3. Considering the equities, should the hearing officer order the District to reimburse Parents for the tuition that they have paid to the School for Student’s education during the 2015- 2016 school year?
M-K-Methacton-ODRNo-16803-15-16-KE

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