NK vs. School District Philadelphia

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

ODR No. 14362-1314KE

Child’s Name: N.K.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: 1/7/14, 1/15/14, 1/24/14, 2/21/14 2/26/14, 3/7/14, 3/20/14, 3/27/14, 4/4/14, 4/16/14, 4/22/14

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parents

School District
Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street, Suite 313 Philadelphia, PA 19130

Representative:

Parent Attorney

Liliana Yazno-Bartle, Esquire Law Offices of Caryl Oberman Grove Summit Office Park 607 A North Easton Road Willow Grove, PA 19090

School District Attorney Heather Matejik, Esquire
Levin Legal Group
301 Masons Mill Business Park 1800 Byberry Road Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006

Date Record Closed: June 6, 2014

Date of Decision: July 3, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student and twin Sibling, both IDEA eligible in the autism disability category, recently completed their first year of school age services in a private school selected by Parents. Parents filed a due process complaint in early October 2013 requesting tuition reimbursement, as well as payment for a number of other services not included in the private school tuition. At the time the complaint was filed, Parents alleged that although the District had offered Student a placement in a kindergarten autistic support classroom, the District had not offered an appropriate IEP for Student.

For a number of reasons, including the logistics of compiling a combined record for two Students, hearing session and witness scheduling difficulties, numerous bad weather delays and hearing session cancellations, and for a time, early in the process, efforts to resolve the case, the hearing spanned an inordinate amount of time and 11 sessions, from early January through late April 2014.

Between the date the 2013/2014 school year began and the date the hearing was convened, the parties had several IEP meetings, the District conducted additional evaluations and prepared several draft IEPs. The District offered a final IEP and NOREP in December 2013, which Parents rejected. By the time the hearing record closed, the question whether the District had offered an appropriate placement and related services during the 2013/2014 school year was divided into several periods. In addition, claims originally asserted for current services became reimbursement claims for the entire school year and for ESY for the summer of 2014.

For the reasons that follow, the decision is in favor of Parents on some claims and in favor of the District on others.

ISSUES

  1. Did the School District fail to timely offer an appropriate IEP for Student prior to the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year in compliance with IDEA procedural and substantive requirements, including conducting an appropriate IEP meeting with full Parent participation?
  2. Did the School District offer an appropriate IEP for Student at any time during the 2013/2014 school year?
  3. If the District failed to offer an appropriate IEP for any period during the 2013/2014 school year, are Parents entitled to tuition reimbursement for Student’s private school placement during any such period, in that, in addition to the District’s failure to offer an appropriate educational placement, the private school provided an appropriate placement for Student?
  4. If the private school was appropriate, are there any equitable reasons that support denying or reducing tuition reimbursement?
  5. Are Parents entitled to reimbursement for any/all of the following additional services provided to Student during the 2013/2014 school year, either by the private school at an extra cost to Parents, or directly by Parents:
    1. A one-to-one aide during the school day;
    2. Transportation to and from the private school;
    3. 2 hours/week of speech/language services;
    4. 1 hour/week of occupational therapy;
    5. 10 hours/week of home-based ABA therapy;
    6. ESY services for the summer of 2014 at the private school?
N-K-Philadelphia-ODRNo-14362-1314KE

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