SW vs. Abington School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
Child’s Name: S.W.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: 3/28/2017

Closed HEARING

ODR File No. 18864-16-17

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Abington School District 970 Highland Avenue Abington, PA 19001-4535

Representative:

Parents Attorney Pro Se

LEA Attorney
Claudia Huot Esq.
Blue Bell Executive Campus 460 Norristown Road, Suite 110 Blue Bell , PA 19422-2323 610-825-8400 x 1801

Date Record Closed: April 3, 2017

Date of Decision: April 11, 2017

Hearing Officer: Charles W. Jelley Esq. LL. M.

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The child (Student)1 is an eligible student of the school district named in this matter (District). The Student is school age and is identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA) as a Student with the disability of an Other Health Impairment (OHI).

When the Parent failed to respond to the District’s proposal to modify the Student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), the District filed a complaint, invoking the IDEA’s “due process hearing” procedure, with the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) 20 USC § 1415(f). In the complaint, the District argued that the Student’s IEP should be changed to ensure the Student’s receipt of a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) which is the central guarantee of the IDEA 20 USC §1412(a)(1). See, Due Process Compl. Notice, S#50; See also, 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d) (setting forth requirements for the IEP). To provide FAPE, the District is proposing to modify the Student’s IEP goals, specially-designed instruction, level of support and the time the Student spends in the regular education classroom.

Before the hearing, the Parties participated in one telephone prehearing conference call. After the teleconference, the hearing officer provided the parties the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) Standard Practices (HO#1). Several days before the hearing, the hearing officer contacted the parties to remind them of the hearing date and requested a copy of the 5-day disclosure materials. The District responded. Although the Parent did not provide any disclosure materials, the Parent indicated the Parent would attend the hearing. However, the Parent did not participate in the due process hearing. The hearing officer, on the record, called the Parent at the

two contact phone numbers in the ODR database. When the Parent did not return the call, the hearing officer waited for 45 minutes and then went back on the record and completed the hearing in one session (NT pp.7-10). After the hearing, the Parent emailed the hearing officer, stating that she was with her daughter at an unidentified emergency room. The hearing officer responded, asking if the Parent wanted to proceed, but the Parent never responded.2 The dispute is now ripe for a decision.

I have determined the credibility of all witnesses and I have considered and carefully and thoughtfully weighed all of the evidence of record.3 I have concluded that the District’s proposed IEP and placement are reasonably calculated to provide the Student with substantial benefits. An Order directing the District to implement the February 2017 IEP and the change in placement is attached hereto along with copies of the appeal procedures.

ISSUES

1. Did the District provide an appropriately comprehensive reevaluation of Student, before proposing modification to the pendant IEP?

2. After reviewing the Reevaluation Report did the District offer the Student an appropriate IEP?

3. Should the hearing officer order the District to implement the February 2017 IEP?

S-W-Abington-ODRNo-18864-16-17

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