Special Education Hearing Officer


Student’s Name: S.B.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR No. 13159-1213KE


Parties to the Hearing:


State Correctional Institution – Pine Grove

189 Fyock Road Indiana, PA 15701


Heather Hulse, Esquire McAndrews Law Offices, P.C. 30 Cassatt Avenue
Berwyn, PA 19312

Debra Rand, Esquire Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Date of Hearing: March 22, 2013

Record Closed: April 17, 2013

Date of Decision: May 1, 2013

Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford


This matter concerns the educational rights of a Student who is incarcerated in the State Correctional Institution – Pine Grove (SCI-Pine Grove). More specifically, the Student is confined to the Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), a “prison within a prison” for inmates placed in disciplinary custody. The Student is confined to the RHU as a result of frequent misconduct in prison, including assaulting other inmates and guards. As discussed below, the Student spends 23 hours per day in a solitary prison cell. It is expected that the Student will remain in the RHU for the remainder of the current school year (2012-13), and very likely longer. In fact, it is quite possible that the Student will age out of IDEA eligibility before leaving the RHU.

This matter arises under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. Both parties agree that the Student is IDEA-eligible; the Student has a disability recognized by the IDEA and, by reason thereof, requires special education. The novel question posed in this case is whether SCI-Pine Grove must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the Student, or whether any denial of FAPE may be excused under the IDEA’s penological exception, found at 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(7)(A),(B).


  1. What obligations does SCI-Pine Grove have to the Student pursuant to the IDEA?
  2. Was the Student denied a FAPE and, if so, is the Student owed compensatory education as a remedy?
  3. Is the Student entitled to an independent educational evaluation (IEE)?

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