SF vs. School District Philadelphia

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: SF
Date of Birth: xx/xx/xxxx
Dates of Hearing: 10/15/08; 01/07/09

CLOSED HEARING

ODR No. 9173/08-09 AS

Parties to the Hearing: Parent

School District Philadelphia

Representative: Parent Attorney:

School District Attorney Kenneth Cooper, Esq.
Office of General Counsel
440 North Broad Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19130

Date Record Closed: January 13, 2009

Date of Decision: January 28, 2009

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[Student] is presently a first grade student in the [Charter School]. Student’s Mother would like him to attend a traditional Philadelphia public school, but she contends that the neighborhood school where the District proposes to implement the special education program proposed for Student cannot fully accommodate his needs and provide a safe environment for him. Parent has refused to permit Student attend school in a setting that she believes is an inappropriate placement. Parent requested Student’s assignment to another nearby Philadelphia elementary school which she contends would be more suitable for Student. In the alternative, Parent requests a private school or a different charter school placement. Although Parent believes that Student would be academically, behaviorally and socially unsuccessful in the public school proposed by the District, she wants Student to have the opportunity to interact with peers during the school day, and believes her preferred school would meet his needs.

In addition to opposing Parent’s substantive contentions, the District argued that the due process complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because Student is enrolled in a public charter school. The District’s motion was denied for reasons placed briefly on the record and more fully developed in this decision.

The due process hearing record was completed in two brief but widely separated sessions. The lengthy period between sessions resulted from attempts to accommodate the schedule of Parent’s former counsel, who withdrew her appearance just before the second hearing session, scheduled for December 19, 2008. After that session was postponed due to bad weather, the hearing was completed on January 7, 2009 with Parent proceeding pro se on behalf of Student.

For the reasons which follow, I conclude that the School District has offered Student an appropriate program and placement.

ISSUES

  1. Should the due process complaint for Student have been dismissed for lack of jurisdiction due to his current enrollment in a charter school?
  2. Has the School District of Philadelphia proposed an appropriate placement for Student?
  3. Has the School District of Philadelphia proposed an appropriate program for Student?
SF-Philadelphia-ODRNo-9173-08-09-AS

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