NM vs. Upper Darby School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

Final Decision and Order

CLOSED HEARING

ODR File Number: 19752 17 18

Child’s Name: N. M.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing:

10/23/17

Parent:

Parent(s)

Counsel for Parent

Pro Se

Local Education Agency:

Upper Darby School District 601 N. Lansdowne Avenue Drexel Hill, PA 19026

Counsel for the LEA

Scott Gottel Esquire
Holsten & Associates, One Olive Street Media, PA 19063

Hearing Officer: William Culleton Esquire, Certified Hearing Officer

Date of Decision: 10/31/17

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The child named in this matter (Student)1 is an eligible resident of the District. Student is identified with Other Health Impairment pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA). Until September 2017 in the current school term, Student attended Student’s neighborhood school. However, in September 2017, the District suspended Student with intent to expel for bringing a knife to school in violation of a student code of conduct.

The District met with Parents to review information, as required by the IDEA.2 The District then determined that Student’s behavior was not a manifestation of Student’s disability. Parents disagreed, and asked the District for a due process hearing without filing the IDEA required Complaint Notice.3 The District then filed the present complaint. Parents and the District have agreed to place Student in an alternative school pending the resolution of this matter.

The District asks this hearing officer to find that its manifestation determination and proposal to change Student’s placement were correct. Parents ask this hearing officer to find that the Student’s behavior was a manifestation of Student’s Other Health Impairment; they request an order requiring the District to continue Student’s placement in Student’s neighborhood school.

The hearing commenced within an expedited time frame.4 It concluded in a single session. I have considered and weighed all of the evidence of record. I conclude that the District’s manifestation determination was appropriate. I will not order the District to keep Student in Student’s neighborhood school or prevent it from changing Student’s placement as appropriate.

ISSUES

  1. Was the District’s manifestation determination appropriate?
  2. Should the hearing officer order the District to continue Student’s placement in Student’s neighborhood school?
N-M-Upper-Darby-19752-17-18

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