SB vs. School District of Philadelphia

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: S.B.

ODR #5999/05-06 KE

Date of Birth: XX/XX/XX

Date of Hearing: December 7, 2005

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent

School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130

Representative: Pro Se

Mimi Rose, Esquire
Office of General Counsel School District of Philadelphia 440 N. Broad Street 3rd Floor Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130

Date Transcript Received: December 13, 2005

Date of Decision: December 16, 2005

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

Background

Student is an eligible student enrolled in the School District of Philadelphia (hereinafter District). His mother, Parent (hereinafter Parent) asked for this hearing in order to have Student’s instructional location changed to another school in the District. She believes that he is unsafe at his current school due to a previous altercation in the neighborhood in April 2005 and a subsequent verbal threat in the school in September 2005 from one of the participants in the altercation. The District changed Student’s school once at the Parent’s request but the length of travel time became a factor, and both the District and the Parent agreed that placement was not viable. The District has offered at least one other school in the region1, but the Parent has rejected that offer believing that the school is not a suitable place for Student. The Parent seeks Student’s placement in one of several high schools in the District outside Student’s designated region.

At the prehearing conference the hearing officer learned that the Parent also alleges that Student’s IEP is not being implemented. Given the potential urgency of a location change, this hearing officer bifurcated the hearing and received testimony only on the location change; another session will be scheduled for the IEP implementation issue(s) unless the parties come to a resolution between themselves. (NT 14-16, 65)

In order to place this decision in the context of Student as a student, the following historical information is offered2. He was first evaluated in August 1998 when his cognitive functioning was found to be variable (VIQ 90, PIQ 69) and he was placed in a full time learning support program. Inpatient and a partial psychiatric hospitalizations in February 1999 led to placement in a small, structured emotional support setting where he did well. He was subsequently mainstreamed into a 4th grade class and according to a November 2000 psychological evaluation made “fine progress” with wraparound support, and although he continued to demonstrate symptoms of ADHD, his behavior “improved greatly”.

In May 2003 he received an occupational therapy evaluation and although some difficulties were noted particularly in handwriting occupational therapy was not found to be necessary. In June 2003 (end of 6th grade) an evaluation found him to be functioning in the average to low average range (VIQ 97, PIQ 83, FSIQ 90), his teacher reported he was instructional at a 6th grade level in reading and at the middle of 5th grade in math, and

his WIAT standard scores were Basic Reading 91, Reading Comprehension 95, Mathematics Reasoning 73, and Spelling 96. He was not disruptive in the classroom.
He continued to be found to have a disability (emotional disturbance with other health impaired as a secondary category) but not to be in need of specially designed instruction, and with his mother’s approval was exited from special education with a recommendation for monitoring through CSAP and support in reading and math to bolster his self- confidence in these areas.

In December 2003 he received another evaluation3. On the Stanford Binet he achieved a Standard Age Score (SAS) of 88 in verbal reasoning, an SAS of 82 in visual abstract reasoning, an SAS of 74 in quantitative reasoning, and an SAS of 78 in short term memory. Achievement testing with the WIAT yielded standard scores as follows: Basic Reading 77, Reading Comprehension 94, Mathematics Reasoning 85, Numerical Operations 83, Spelling 96 and Listening Comprehension 95. The evaluator believed the scores may have been depressed because of lack of motivation and his not having received his medication for ADHD the morning of the testing. The evaluator offered a smorgasbord of options for the IEP team to consider ranging from “mainstream placement” through “resource support for learning and emotional problems” and “learning and/or emotional support class” to “placement in an approved private school”. Additional recommendations were “resumption of individual and family therapy” and “resumption of medication therapy for ADHD”. Following this evaluation he was again found to be eligible and was offered special education programs up to and including the present. Student is currently classified as emotionally disturbed and other health impaired (ADHD). His IEP calls for learning support4 in a resource room for 7.67 hours per week and school-based counseling.

Apparently behavioral problems were present from preschool, where Student [was aggressive with] peers, had problems following directions and was unable to focus. High lead levels in early childhood were also noted. Subsequent to inpatient hospitalization in February 1999 for [two incidents of problematic behavior], Student attended a partial hospitalization day treatment program. At that time a psychiatric evaluation noted frequent school absences5, difficulty getting along with teachers, peers and adults, and an inability to focus on schoolwork. Following his return in March 2003 from a brief stay in [another state], Student reportedly began fighting almost daily with the other children in the neighborhood. [Redacted.]

Issue

Must the School District of Philadelphia move Student to one of the high schools preferred by his mother?

S-B-School-District-of-Philadelphia-ODRNo-5999-05-06-KE

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