OC vs. School District Philadelphia

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: OC
Date of Birth: xx/xx/xxxx
Dates of Hearing: August 25, 2008

CLOSED HEARING

ODR No. 8937/07-08 AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent

School District Philadelphia

Representative:

Parent Attorney:
Maura McInerney, Esq. Education Law Center-PA 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 400 Philadelphia, PA 19107

School District Attorney Kenneth Cooper, Esq.
Office of General Counsel
440 North Broad Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19130

Date Record Closed: September 2, 2008

Date of Decision: September 17, 2008

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student is a student with severe disabilities, including mental retardation, speech/language impairment and intractable epilepsy, which required a partial right frontal lobectomy to control frequent seizures. Now nearly [a young teenager], Student has been enrolled in the Philadelphia School District since the age of five, when his Parents moved to Philadelphia from [outside the United States] to seek better medical care and educational services for him.

Student’s Mother filed a due process complaint in June 2008, requesting Spanish language instruction for Student, as well as compensatory education for the District’s decision not to place him in a bi-lingual educational setting, or provide any Spanish language instruction, for several years. Parent asserts that the lack of instruction in Student’s native language and lack of opportunity to interact with Spanish-speaking peers since the beginning of second grade, when he was first placed into a life skills program, resulted in no measurable progress toward the functional, speech/language and academic goals in his IEP.

The parties agreed that the critical issue to be determined for the 2008/2009 school year is whether Student should have daily academic instruction delivered in Spanish by a teacher or paraprofessional. Although Student is currently in a bi-lingual class which affords him daily interaction with Spanish-speaking peers, instruction is delivered entirely in English. The parties further agreed 1) that an independent evaluation should be conducted by a bi-lingual school psychologist, (completed in July 2008); 2) that an initial hearing session, limited to the issue of daily instruction in Spanish, should be convened as soon as the evaluation report was made available to and reviewed by the School District; 3) that a decision should be issued on that claim, while deferring the hearing on other issues to a later session or sessions. Accordingly, the

hearing session devoted to bi-lingual instruction was held on August 25, 2008, and this decision is limited to determining that issue.

ISSUE

Should the School District of Philadelphia be required to provide daily instruction to Student in Student’s native language, Spanish, as well as in English?

OC-Philadelphia-ODRNo-8937-07-08-AS

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