NM vs. School District Spring-Ford Area

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 14590-1314KE

Child’s Name: N.M.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 4/25/14, 5/23/14, 5/29/14,

6/2/14, 6/23/14

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District Spring-Ford Area
857 South Lewis Road Royersford, PA 19468

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Frederick Stanczak, Esquire 179 N. Broad Street, 2nd Floor Doylestown, PA 18901

School District Attorney Mark Fitzgerald, Esquire Fox Rothschild, LLP
Suite 200, P.O. Box 3001 Ten Sentry Parkway
Blue Bell, PA 19422-3001

Date Record Closed: September 2, 2014

Date of Decision: September 17, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student in this case is fully included and academically successful in a District elementary school classroom, but has significant behavior needs arising from autism spectrum disorder, the basis for Student’s IDEA eligibility.

Midway through second grade (2013/2014 school year), Parents filed a due process complaint because of their dissatisfaction with the District’s services to address Student’s behavior needs and pragmatic language skills. After delays arising from a serious family illness and completion of an independent functional behavior assessment and analysis, the hearing was convened late in April 2014 and was conducted in five sessions through the end of June. The decision was further delayed at the joint request of the parties after the record closed when it appeared that a settlement of the dispute might be possible, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.

Parents requested compensatory education for an alleged denial of FAPE arising from allegedly inappropriate behavior support plans and implementation of behavior support services for the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years and for denial of sufficient appropriate services to address Student’s pragmatic language needs. Parents also requested reimbursement for their independent behavior evaluation and requested that the District be required to implement the recommendations of the independent evaluator.

For the reasons that follow, Parents’ requests are granted with respect to the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years, reimbursement for the independent evaluation and implementation of most but not all of the evaluator’s recommendations. Parents’ claim with respect to speech/language services is denied.

ISSUES

  1. Did the School District provide Student with appropriate behavior support plans, including adequate supports and services to address Student’s behavior issues during the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years?
  2. Were Student’s behavior plans appropriately implemented during the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years?
  3. Is the School District required to fund the independent functional behavioral assessment and analysis that Parents obtained, in that the District’s most recent FBA was not complete, accurate, and appropriate?
  4. Should the School District be required to revise Student’s behavior plan to incorporate and implement the recommendations of the evaluator who completed an independent FBA on behalf of Parents?
  5. Does Student have pragmatic language deficits and needs that should be addressed with speech and language therapy that the District has failed to provide?
  6. Is Student entitled to an award of compensatory education, and if so, for what period, in what form, and in what amount?
N-M-Spring-Ford-Area-ODRNo-14590-1314KE

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