Student vs. West Chester Area School District

PENNSYLVANIA
SPECIAL EDUCATION HEARING OFFICER

DECISION
DUE PROCESS HEARING

Name of Child: Student

ODR #8696/07-08 KE

Date of Birth: Xx/xx/xx

Dates of Hearing: May 20, 2008 July 28, 2008 July 29, 2008 October 6, 2008 October 10, 2008

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

West Chester Area School District Spellman Administration Building 829 Paoli Pike
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380

Representative:
Ilene Young, Esquire
Law Office of Ilene Young, Esquire 50 E. Court Street, Main Floor Doylestown, Pennsylvania 18901

David Painter, Esquire
Sweet, Stevens, Katz & Williams PO Box 5069
New Britain, Pennsylvania 18901

Date Closing Arguments Received: November 5, 2008

Date of Decision: November 18, 2008

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

Background

Student is an elementary school aged eligible student residing with Mr. and Mrs. (hereinafter Parents) in the West Chester Area School District (hereinafter District). Student is classified as a child with autism and a speech/language impairment. After attending a preschool early intervention program in the Chester County Intermediate Unit (hereinafter IU), for Kindergarten Student was unilaterally enrolled in the Private School, a private school for students with learning differences where Student remains. The Parents requested this hearing because they want the District to reimburse them for Student’s tuition at Private School for the 2006-2007 and the 2007-2008 school years.

Prior to the parties’ presentation of their cases in chief, at the direction of the hearing officer the parties presented preliminary testimony as to whether or not either of the exceptions to the IDEIA’s two-year limitations period existed since the Parents were asserting claims back to the 2005-2006 school year. (NT 27-123) Finding no evidence that an exception existed the hearing officer limited the scope of the hearing to the 2006- 2007 and the 2007-2008 school years. (NT 124-126)

Because the District’s proposed IEP for Student was found to be appropriate, as was the evaluation upon which that IEP was based, this hearing officer finds for the District and denies tuition reimbursement for the two school years under consideration, noting as well that, although contributory but not determinative, the evidence does not support a finding that the Parents gave the required advance notice to the District of their intention to enroll Student in private school and seek reimbursement.

Issues1

The issues for this hearing, as agreed upon by the parties on the record are:

  1. Did the West Chester Area School District fail to offer Student a free, appropriate public education?
  2. If the West Chester Area School District failed to offer Student a free, appropriate public education, was the placement unilaterally selected by the Parents appropriate?
  3. If the West Chester Area School District failed to offer Student a free, appropriate public education, and the placement unilaterally selected by the Parents was appropriate, are there equitable considerations that remove or limit the District’s responsibility for tuition reimbursement for the 2006-2007 and the 2007-2008 school years?
  4. Alternatively, if the West Chester Area School District failed to offer Student a free, appropriate public education, and the placement unilaterally selected by the Parents was inappropriate, is Student entitled to compensatory education, and if so, in what kind and in what amount?
Student-West-Chester-Area-ODRNo-8696-07-08-KE

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