MZ vs. Upper St. Clair School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION

Child’s Name: M. Z.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Christopher N. Elnicki, Esquire Hillary C. Cox, Esquire
428 Forbes Avenue, Suite 700 Pittsburgh, PA 15219

LEA Attorney
Patricia R. Andrews, Esquire Andrews and Price
1500 Ardmore Boulevard, Suite 506 Pittsburgh, PA 15221

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File No. 18558-16-17 AS

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Upper St. Clair School District 1820 McLaughlin Run Road Pittsburgh, PA 15241-2396

Dates of Hearing: February 6, 2017; February 22, 2017; March 22, 2017

Date of Decision: April 18, 2017

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)1 is a mid-teenaged student who resides within the boundaries of the Upper St. Clair School District (District) and formerly attended its schools, but now attends a charter school. Student was never identified by the District as a child who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).2 Student’s Parents filed a due process complaint against the District asserting that it denied Student a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973,3 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes, in failing to identify Student as in need of special education and/or accommodations, and otherwise discriminated against Student on the basis of Student’s disability. The District denied all of the Parents’ allegations.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing. 4 At the first session, evidence was presented on whether the Parents should be permitted to proceed with claims that extended beyond the IDEA statute of limitations. Following a ruling in favor of the District on the record, substantive evidence was presented during that initial and two subsequent hearings.5 The record closed on receipt of the parties’ written closing arguments.6

For the reasons set forth below, the Parents’ claims must be denied.

ISSUES

Whether the District failed in its obligation to evaluate and identify Student as eligible for special education prior to May 2016;

If it did fail in that obligation, did the District deny Student a free, appropriate public education;

If the District did deny Student a free, appropriate public education, should Student be awarded compensatory education?

M-Z-Upper-St-Clair-ODRNo-18558-16-17-AS

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