Student vs. School District Coatesville Area

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 00985-0910KE

Child’s Name: Student

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing: 5/10/10

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parents

School District
Coatesville Area
545 East Lincoln Highway Coatesville, PA 19320-2494

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Jennifer Bradley, Esq. McAndrews Law Offices 30 Cassatt Avenue Berwyn, PA 19312

School District Attorney
Stephanie Divittore, Esq.
Rhoads & Sinon, LLP
1 South Market Square PO Box 1146 Harrisburg, PA 17108

Date Record Closed: May 14, 2010

Date of Decision: May 25, 2010

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student (Student) is completing 11th grade at [redacted] High School [in the District], having recently returned to school after a 30 day exclusion imposed due to [a violation of the school rules] [in Europe] on April 1, 2010 during a District sponsored trip.

At the beginning of the 2004/2005 school year, the District provided Student with a Service Plan as a protected handicapped student under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, after Parents notified the District that Student had a medical diagnosis of ADHD and shared a psychological evaluation report they had obtained privately. Early in the 2007/2008 school year (9th grade), the District notified Parents that an updated medical diagnosis of disability and a new request for an accommodation plan was required in order to maintain Student’s §504 eligibility and develop a new Service Plan. Parents, however, contend that Student’s status as a §504 protected handicapped student never changed and that the District’s apparent failure to continue implementing the §504 Service Plan during high school was a violation of Student’s §504 rights. Parents further contend that the District’s failure to conduct a manifestation determination review, or provide a similar process, prior to imposing the 30 day disciplinary exclusion was improper. Parents’ ultimate contention is that if an appropriate manifestation determination review, or other similar process sufficient under §504 had been conducted, the District would have been forced to conclude that Student’s violation of the District code of conduct that led to the discipline was a manifestation of Student’s ADHD, and, therefore, that it was improper to impose a disciplinary sanction amounting to a change of placement for that violation.

Because the evidence produced at the May 14, 2010 expedited hearing does not support Parents’ contention that the violation resulting in the 30 day exclusion from school arose from disability-related conduct, Parents’ claims based upon allegedly improperly discipline are denied.

ISSUES

Did the Coatesville Area School District violate Student ’s rights under §504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or under the IDEA statute, by imposing a 30 day exclusion from school without considering whether the conduct that resulted in the discipline was a manifestation of Student’s previously identified condition, ADHD?

If the District should have considered whether Student ’s conduct was a manifestation of a disability that rendered Student a §504 protected handicapped student, did the process the District provided prior to imposing the discipline satisfy the legal requirement that the District must provide a pre-disciplinary process to a §504 protected student that is similar to the manifestation determination review provided to an IDEA eligible student?

Was Student ’s behavior that resulted in a disciplinary change of placement, a 30 day expulsion from school, a manifestation of a disability, i.e., ADHD?

Student-Coatesville-Area-ODRNo-00985-0910KE-

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