RP vs. School District of Philadelphia

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: RP

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing:
November 21, 2006, November 28, 2006

CLOSED HEARING
ODR #7115/ 06-07 LS

Parties to the Hearing: Mr. and Mrs.

School District of Philadelphia 440 North Broad Street, Suite 313 Philadelphia PA 19130

Representative:

Heidi Konkler-Goldsmith, Esquire McAndrews Law Offices, P.C.
30 Cassatt Avenue
Berwyn PA 19312

Deborah Greenfield DeLauro, Esquire Office of General Counsel
440 North Broad Street, Third Floor Philadelphia PA 19130

Date Record Closed: November 28, 2006

Date of Decision: December 8, 2006

Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire

INTRODUCTION

Student is a xx year old eligible student of the School District of Philadelphia (District). (FF 1.) He is identified with the exceptionality Emotional Disturbance and the District has placed him in Full Time Emotional Support at the “[redacted” School (School), a private alternative special education school. (FF 2.) He has been diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Selective Mutism. (FF 3.) The District recently found him in violation of its Code of Conduct for breaking and entering the School building, destroying property and stealing computer equipment. (FF 4.) The issue in this matter is whether or not his behavior was a manifestation of his disability.

It is undisputed that, for several weekends, the Student broke into the School building and used the school’s computers, damaging windows, doors and door jambs, rooting through desks and downloading pornography onto the School’s server. (FF 5.) On Saturday, October 7, 2006, the Student broke a window to the basement and used the School’s computers. (FF 6.) When this was discovered, the School’s maintenance man boarded the window. (FF 7.) The student returned on Sunday, and finding the basement window boarded, he climbed a fire escape to the roof in rainy weather and broke into the building through an attic window, tried to open locked cabinets, opened locked doors, kicked in windows and stole various articles of computer and other equipment. (FF 8, 9.) He decided to steal the School’s computer server, because it appeared to be the most valuable item due to its size. (FF 10.) He hid the stolen goods in his bedroom, and during the following week was caught when one of his fellow students reported that the Student had tried to sell computer equipment to the informant. (FF 11.)

The Student’s Parents contend that his behavior was a manifestation of his disability, which is characterized by inability to control his impulses, in addition to deficits in executive function. Additionally they argue that the conduct is the product of the District’s failure to implement an appropriate IEP. The District contends that the Student’s symptoms of disability do not explain the behavior, because it was not “impulsive” in the sense of being immediate in time to the stimulus; rather, the District argues that the behavior was repeated, extended over a long period of time, and carefully thought out – thus manifestly not substantially caused by impulse or diminished executive function. The District further contends that it properly implemented the IEP.

ISSUES

  1. Was the Student’s behavior in breaking into the School on multiple occasions over a span of several weeks, and stealing computer equipment, caused by or directly and substantially related to his disabilities, so as to constitute a manifestation of his disabilities?
  2. Was the Student’s behavior in breaking into the School on multiple occasions over a span of several weeks, and stealing computer equipment, the direct result of the District’s failure to implement the IEP, so as to constitute a manifestation of his disabilities?
RP-School-District-of-Philadelphia-ODRNo-7115-06-07-LS

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