Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: T.G.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing: September 13, 2013 September 19, 2013 October 23, 2013
ODR Case #13950-1213KE
Parties to the Hearing: Parents
Lakeland School District
1355 Lakeland Drive
Scott Township, PA 18433-9801
Drew Christian, Esq. 801 Monroe Avenue Scranton, PA 18510
Glenna Hazeltine, Esq. King, Spry, et. al.
One West Broad Street Suite 700
Bethlehem, PA 18018
Date Record Closed: November 11, 2013
Date of Decision: November 25, 2013
Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[Student] (“student”) is a [teenaged] student residing in the Lakeland School District (“District”). The parties dispute the student’s eligibility as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEA”)1, specifically as a student with an emotional disturbance.
Parents assert that the District’s evaluation process was flawed and failed to identify the student as a student with an emotional disturbance. Consequently, parents argue, the District failed to provide special education and related services to the student. As a result of these alleged failures, the parents assert that the student was inappropriately disciplined and removed from the regular education environment without the procedural protections of IDEA.
Parents claim that these acts and omissions denied the student a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) in violation of its obligations
to the student under IDEA, as well as its obligations to the student under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”)2. Parents seek compensatory education as remedy for these alleged failures.
The District counters that its evaluation process was appropriate. It asserts that the conclusion of its evaluation report—that the student does not have a disability—is appropriate and that the student does not qualify under the terms of IDEA or Section 504 as, respectively, a “child with a disability”3 or a “handicapped person”4. Therefore, the District asserts, any disciplinary action it undertook was defensible in light of the student being in regular education, and parents are not entitled to remedy through special education due process.
For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the District.
Did the District err in concluding
that the student does not have a disability?
If so, did the District deny the student FAPE,
and is the student entitled to compensatory education?