Special Education Hearing Officer
ODR No. 15430-1415AS
Child’s Name: O.S.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: 12/18/ 14, 2/20/15, 2/24/15, 2/26/15 3/19/15, 3/20/15, 3/25/15
Parties to the Hearing:
The Chancellor Center
30 North Chancellor Street Newtown, PA 18940
Frederick Stanczak, Esquire 179 N. Broad Street, 2nd Floor Doylestown, PA 18901
School District Attorney Grace Deon, Esquire Eastburn and Gray
60 East Court Street Doylestown, PA 1890
Date Record Closed: June 23, 2015
Date of Decision: June 29, 2015
Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Student in this case was identified as IDEA eligible as a young child due to autism and transitioned from early intervention to the District’s kindergarten autism support program at the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year. Before the kindergarten school year began, an increase in behaviors and regression in Student’s skills led Student’s doctor to initiate trials of various medications that spanned most of Student’s first school year in the District.
During the 2013/204 school year, disagreements between the parties intensified and increased, centering on Student’s IEP goals, generally, and particularly on the speech/language and occupational therapy components of Student’s autism support program. Parents’ concerns about Student’s lack of progress/loss of language skills led them to resume a home program in ABA therapy with the same behavior therapist who had provided a component of Student’s early intervention services. By the beginning of the 2014/2015 school year, Parents had enrolled Student in a private school for students with autism spectrum disorders. Parents submitted a due process complaint seeking tuition reimbursement for the private placement, as well as four hours of compensatory education/day for the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years.
The due process hearing was held over seven sessions between mid-December 2014 and late March 2015. Due to serious and unavoidable personal and professional matters that significantly affected counsel, written closing arguments could not be submitted in this matter until mid to late June 2015, delaying the final decision.
For the reasons that follow, Parents are awarded a portion of the compensatory education they requested, as well as private school tuition reimbursement for the 2014/2015 school year.
- Did the School District provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) to Student during the 2012/2013 and the 2013/2014 school years?
- If not, should the School District be required to provide Student with compensatory education, and if so, in what form, in what amount, and for what period(s)?
- Did the School District offer an appropriate IEP and placement for Student for the 2014/2015 school year?
- If not, should the School District be required to fund Student’s private school placement selected by Parents for the 2014/2015 school year, in that it was appropriate for Student and there are no equitable factors that support denial or reduction of reimbursement?