Student vs. Susquenita School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: Student

Date of Birth: xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing:
March 2, March 3, April 12, April 13, April 26

2010

CLOSED HEARING

ODR Case # 10264-08-09-AS

Parties to the Hearing:

Susquenita School District 1725 Schoolhouse Road Duncannon, PA 17020

Representative:

Yvonne Husic, Esq. 2215 Forest Hills Drive Suite 35
Harrisburg, PA 17112

Frank Clark, Esq. Clark & Krevsky
20 Erford Road Suite 300A Lemoyne, PA 17043

Date Record Closed: May 28, 2010

Date of Decision: June 12, 2009

Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student (“student”) is a teen-aged student residing in the Susquenita School District (“District”) who has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”) and Pennsylvania special education regulations (“Chapter 14”).1 The parties agree that the student qualifies under these provisions of law. The parties disagree over the student’s past and current special education programming. Specifically, the student’s parents allege that, through multiple acts and omissions, the District has denied the student a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) as required under IDEIA and Chapter 14. Additionally, the parents allege that those acts and omissions have violated the District’s duties under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (specifically under Section 504 of that statute, hence the follow-on reference to this section as “Section 504”).2 Parents seek compensatory education as a result of these alleged deprivations. The District counters that at all times it has provided a FAPE to the student and met its obligations under IDEIA, Chapter 14, and Section 504.

Parents’ claimed compensatory education in excess of two years. The first hearing session was devoted to evidence on the scope of the parents’ claims pursuant to 34 C.F.R. §§300.507 and 300.511(f). As a result of the evidence presented, the District was found not to have misrepresented or withheld information regarding the student’s special education program. Therefore, the scope of the hearing, and any potential recovery, were limited to a period after June 25, 2007 (two years prior to the date parents’ complaint was filed).

Finally, by way of explanation, written closing statements (and therefore the closing of the record) were initially due May 18th. Due to an issue where transcript volumes provided by the court reporting agency could not be accessed by parents’ counsel, the due date for closings was extended to May 25th. Thereafter, parents’ counsel was ill and asked for an extension to submit closing arguments. The extension was granted, and both parties were given until May 28th to submit written closing statements.

For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the parents and student.

ISSUES

Has the student been denied a FAPE by the District under the terms of IDEIA/Chapter 14 and/or Section 504?

Has the student, on the basis of handicap, been excluded from participation in, been denied the benefits of, or otherwise been subjected to, discrimination on the part of the District under the terms of Section 504?

If the answer to either or both of these two questions is in the affirmative, is compensatory education owed to the student?

Student-Susquenita-ODRNo-10264-08-09-AS

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