MM vs. Laurel Highlands School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: M.M.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 16762-15-16 AS

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency
Laurel Highlands School District 304 Bailey Avenue
Uniontown, PA 15401

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Pamela E. Berger, Esquire 434 Grace Street Pittsburgh, PA 15211

LEA Attorney
Christina Lane, Esquire
Sanchez Legal Group, LLC
2403 Sidney Street
River Park Commons I, Suite 242 Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Dates of Hearing: 11/4/2015, 1/6/2016

Date Record Closed: January 25, 2016

Date of Decision: February 10, 2016

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is an early elementary school-aged student who formerly resided in the Laurel Highlands School District (District). Student qualifies as a Protected Handicapped Child under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Pennsylvania Chapter 15.2 Student’s Parent filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in its implementation of Student’s Section 504 Service Agreement during the 2014-15 school year, and further that the District engaged in harassment and discrimination against Student on the basis of Student’s disability in that same time period.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing convening over two sessions at which the parties presented evidence in support of their respective positions.3 The Parent sought to establish that the District denied FAPE specifically by failing to consistently provide Student’s one-on-one aide, and that it engaged in discrimination against Student that caused additional anxiety to Student. The District maintained that its education program was properly implemented and that it did not discriminate against Student.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Parent on the FAPE claim, and in favor of the District on the discrimination/harassment claim.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District properly implemented Student’s Section 504 Service Agreement though its provision of a one-on-one aide during the 2014-15 school year;
  2. If the District did not properly implement Student’s Section 504 Service Agreement, is Student entitled to compensatory education and, if so, in what form and amount;
  3. Whether the District discriminated against Student on the basis of Student’s disability during the 2014-15 school year and, if so, what remedy should be ordered?
M-M-Laurel-Highlands-ODRNo-16762-15-16-AS

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