ML vs. Lower Merion School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Student: M.L.

ODR #17597 / 15-16 KE

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Date of Hearing: May 18, 2016

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Lower Merion School District 301 E. Montgomery Avenue Ardmore, PA 19003

Representative:
David Arnold, Esquire
920 Matsonford Road
Suite 106
West Conshohocken, PA 19428

Amy Brooks, Esquire Wisler, Pearlstine, Talone,

Craig, Garrity & Potash Blue Bell Executive Campus

460 Norristown Road, Suite 110 Blue Bell, Pennsylvania 19422-2323

Date Record Closed: June 1, 2016

Date of Decision: June 4, 2016

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

Background

Student1 is a post-21-year old individual, multiply-handicapped since birth, who previously attended school in the District and at all times relevant hereto was entitled to special education programming pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]2 and Pennsylvania Chapter 14 under the classifications of Orthopedic Impairment and Visual Impairment. Although eligibility under the IDEA has ended, Student remains a qualified handicapped person under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. §794)3 and Chapter 15 of the Pennsylvania Code.

Pursuant to an incident, Student stopped attending classes and received homebound instruction. The Student and the Parent (hereinafter Family) asked for this hearing seeking compensatory education, alleging that the District denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) through a delay in starting the homebound instruction, and failing to provide Student’s related services. The District argues that Student was initially unavailable for instruction, and later was able to come to the high school for instruction where all the services in the IEP would be offered.

The testimony of every witness, the content of each exhibit, and the parties’ written closing arguments were reviewed and carefully considered in preparing this decision, regardless of whether there is a citation to particular testimony of a witness or to an exhibit. For the reasons put forth below I find in favor of the Family in part and the District in part.

Issues

  1. Is the District required to provide compensatory education and IEP services when said services were made available at the school and through tutoring at home, and Student was beyond the age of compulsory education?
  2. Did the Family fail to provide adequate documentation of the need for homebound instruction, and if so does said failure to provide documentation bar relief?
  3. If the District is required to provide compensatory education and IEP services and did not, is Student entitled to compensatory education?
  4. If Student is entitled to compensatory education, in which form and in what amount is Student so entitled?
M-L-Lower-Merion-ODRNo-17597-15-16-KE

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