MZ vs. School District Bethlehem Area

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 01125-0910AS

Child’s Name: M.Z.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 8/24/10, 9/13/10

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parents
Parent(s)

School District

Bethlehem Area
1516 Sycamore Street Bethlehem, PA 18017

Representative:

Parent Attorney

Kelly Darr, Esq.
The Philadelphia Building 1315 Walnut Street Philadelphia, PA 19107

School District Attorney

Glenna Hazeltine, Esq.
King Spry
One West Broad Street Suite 700 Bethlehem, PA 18018

Date of Reinstatement/Decision : January 1, 2011

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[Student, a teenaged] (Student), entered 9th grade in a Bethlehem Area School District high school at the beginning of the 2010/2011 school year. Student receives special education speech/language services to address pragmatic language and social skills deficits arising from diagnoses of Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS) and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Student also receives gifted education services in accordance with Pennsylvania law.

After a comprehensive reevaluation in the middle of 8th grade, including cognitive and achievement testing, curriculum-based assessments, classroom observations, input from Parent and Student’s 8th grade teachers, the District concluded that Student no longer needs specially designed instruction and proposes to terminate IDEA eligibility. The District further proposes a §504 plan for continuing classroom accommodations to address the effects of Student’s CAPD. Parent requested an IEE due to alleged inadequacies in the District’s evaluation that led to the non-eligibility determination, and the District filed a due process complaint to support its denial of Parent’s IEE request. Although Parent was willing to withdraw the IEE request, the District wanted to proceed with its complaint because Parent still expressed disagreement with the reevaluation results.

Since the family spent the summer out of the country, the due process hearing was conducted in two sessions in late August and mid-September. After the evidentiary record was completed, the case was provisionally closed and the decision held in abeyance at the joint request of the parties while they attempted to reach a global settlement of several ongoing disputes. When that was unsuccessful, the parties requested reinstatement by submitting written closing arguments to summarize their respective positions, as directed in the provisional closing order.

ISSUES

  1. Is the reevaluation of [Student] that was completed by the School District in 2010 an appropriate basis for determining whether [Student] is currently eligible for IDEA special education services?
  2. If not, should the School District be required to fund an independent educational evaluation to supplement and appropriately complete the School District’s evaluation?
M-Z-Bethlehem-Area-

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