RA vs. Freire Charter School

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION

EXPEDITED DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: RA

ODR #9580/08-09 LS

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx
Date of Hearing: January 14, 2009

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Ms.

Freire Charter School
2027 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Representative:
David Thalheimer, Esquire Thalheimer and Palumbo
1831 Chestnut Street Suite 300 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103

Scott Wolpert, Esquire
Timony Knox
400 Maryland Drive PO Box 7544 Ft Washington, Pennsylvania 19034

Date Transcript Received: January 19, 2009

Date Complaint Received by ODR: January 2, 2009

Date of Decision: January 24, 2009

Hearing Officer: Linda M. Valentini, Psy.D.

Background

Student is a late teen-age eligible student enrolled in the Freire Charter School (hereinafter FCS). Pursuant to a behavioral incident on December 16, 2008 FCS conducted a manifestation determination meeting which resulted in the finding that the incident was not a manifestation of Student’s disability. Student’s mother Ms. (hereinafter Parent) asked for this expedited hearing, alleging that the team made an incorrect decision at the manifestation determination meeting and that FCS violated Student’s pendency (“stay-put”) rights by continuing to exclude Student from school. The Parent seeks reinstatement for her child at FCS pursuant to a hearing officer’s finding that the incident in question was a manifestation of Student’s disability, and seeks compensatory education for a denial of educational benefit caused by the alleged pendency violation. FCS maintains that the manifestation determination was legally correct and should be upheld. Additionally, FCS asks that should the hearing officer find that the manifestation determination decision was not legally correct, she nevertheless find that maintaining the current placement of Student at FCS is substantially likely to result in injury to self or to others and order Student to be placed in an alternative educational setting for 45 school days.

The Parent’s complaint also alleged denial of FAPE because of an inappropriate IEP, and included a request for an independent educational evaluation (IEE) as well as additional relief in the form of compensatory education. The hearing officer notified the parties that the hearing would be bifurcated and that the expedited portion would be conducted first, with a second session to be held at a later date to address the rest of the complaint.

ODR received the hearing request on January 2, 2009. The hearing was held 8 school days later, on January 14, 2009 from 5:30 to 10:30 pm. Pursuant to Pennsylvania regulations, this expedited decision is due 10 school days after the hearing date. January 15th was Day One, and the School has scheduled closings on January 19th and January 26th, making the decision due date January 30, 2009. However this decision is being issued prior to the due date.

Issues

1.Was the outcome of the manifestation determination meeting conducted by the Freire Charter School regarding Student legally correct?

2.If the outcome of the manifestation determination was not legally correct, does Student present a significant risk of harm to self, School staff, or other students such that Student should be placed in a 45 school day alternative educational placement?

RA-Freire-Charter-ODRNo-9580-08-09-LS

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