NB vs. School District Penn-Delco

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 00770-0910KE

Child’s Name: N.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 6/2/10, 6/3/10, 6/4/10

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District Penn-Delco
2821 Concord Road Aston, PA 190142-2907

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Ralph Gerstein, Esq.
12 Canoe Brook Drive West Windsor, NJ 08550

School District Attorney Leo Hackett, Esquire
Law Offices of Leo Hackett 300 West State Street, Suite 301 Media, PA 19063

Date Record Closed: July 19, 2010

Date of Decision: August 3, 2010

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student is currently residing at a behavioral treatment facility outside of the Penn Delco School District, where the Parents reside. Pursuant to an order entered after a prior due process hearing, the District funded the entire cost of the placement for approximately 1 year until Pennsylvania Department of Welfare assumed the responsibility for the residential portion, while the District continued to fund the educational portion.

Parents’ current due process complaint was initiated primarily because of funding issues. Student has been approved for the next, less restrictive residence treatment option, but that phase of the program hasn’t been approved for the medical funding, and there is a possibility that the current placement will not be re-authorized for continued funding. Parents contend that a residential placement remains essential for Student, requiring the District to reassume responsibility for the costs of the residential portion of the facility Student currently attends should the medical funding become unavailable. Parents further contend that Student’s continued progress will be compromised unless the District assumes responsibility for the next phase of residential treatment, which Magellan Behavioral Health, the DPW program manager, has so far refused to approve for payment. In essence, therefore, Parents seek an order imposing the entire costs of Student’s current placement on the District to assure that Student receives an appropriate residential program.

The due process hearing record, compiled over three consecutive sessions in early June 2010, cannot, however, support the conclusion that either the recommended “step down” residential program offered at the facility Student currently attends, or any residential placement, is necessary for Student to receive an appropriate educational program. Consequently, as explained in detail below, Parents’ claims will be denied.

ISSUES

  1. Does Student require a residential placement in order to derive meaningful benefit from special education services?
  2. Is the School District obligated to assume the costs of a residential program for Student at the facility where Student is currently placed, but in a less restrictive setting, the Program, for which other public funding is unavailable?
  3. Is the School District obligated to fund the specific residential program for Student where Student now receives services in the event other sources of public funding become unavailable for that placement?

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