NW vs. Agency Avon Grove School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION

Child’s Name: N. W.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR File No. 18615-16-17KE

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Avon Grove School District 107 Schoolhouse Road West Grove, PA 19390

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Stephen J. Jacobson, Psy. D. Jacobson & John LLP
99 Lantern Drive, Suite 202 Doylestown, PA 18901

LEA Attorney
Kathleen M. Metcalfe, Esquire Sweet Stevens Katz & Williams LLP 331 Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901

Dates of Hearing: March 23, 2017; May 8, 2017; May 15, 2017; May 25, 20171

Date of Decision: July 5, 2017

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The student (hereafter Student)2 is a late-teenaged student in the Avon Grove School District (District) who is eligible for special education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)3 under the category of Other Health Impairment primarily based on Autism Spectrum Disorder. Toward the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Student’s thirteenth (school) year, Student engaged in conduct that violated the District’s acceptable use of technology, and the consequences significantly impacted Student’s post- secondary transition programming. Student’s Parents subsequently filed a Due Process Complaint against the District raising claims under the IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 19734 (Section 504), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),5 as well as the federal and state regulations implementing those statutes. The issues presented related to the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years as well as prospectively.

The case proceeded to a due process hearing with evidence presented over three sessions,6 and the decision due date was extended on requests by the parties jointly, or individually without objection, for good cause shown. The Parents sought to establish that the District failed to provide Student with an appropriate program individualized to Student’s needs;

and that compensatory education, independent educational evaluations (IEEs), and declaratory relief in the form of a prospective program and placement were warranted. The District maintained that its special education program, as offered and implemented, was appropriate for Student, and that there was no basis for ordering any remedy.

For the reasons set forth below, the Parents’ claims will be granted in part.

ISSUES

  1. Whether the District complied with its obligations to provide Student with a free, appropriate public education, including with respect to post-secondary transition, during the 2015-16 and 2016- 17 school years;
  2. If the District failed in its obligations to provide Student with a free, appropriate public education during the two school years in question, should the District be ordered to provide compensatory education to Student;
  3. If the District failed in its obligations to provide Student with a free, appropriate public education during the two school years in question, should the District be ordered to provide reimbursement to the Parents for certain expenditures they incurred in relation to Student’s educational program;
  4. If the District failed in its obligations to provide Student with a free, appropriate public education with respect to post-secondary transition programming, should the District be ordered to reinstate Student to the program that was implemented during the 2015-16 school year; and
  5. Should the District be ordered to provide independent psychoeducational and occupational therapy evaluations and an independent functional behavioral assessment?
N-W-Avon-Grove-ODRNo-18615-16-17KE

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