Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer
Final Decision and Order
ODR File Numbers: 18809 16 17 and 19109 16 171
Child’s Name: T. R.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Dates of Hearing:2
5/4/17, 8/18/17, 8/23/17, 8/24/17
Local Education Agency:
Commonwealth Charter Academy, 4050 Crums Mill Road, Suite 303, Harrisburg, PA 17112
Counsel for the LEA
Kimberly Colonna, Esquire and Thomas Markey, Esquire 100 Pine Street, P.O. Box 1166, Harrisburg, PA 17108
Hearing Officer: Michael J. McElligott, Esquire
Date of Decision:3 9/30/17
Student (“student”)4 is an early-teen aged student who attends the Commonwealth Charter Academy (“Charter School”), a Pennsylvania cyber charter school. The parties agree that the student qualifies under the terms of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”)5 as a student formally identified with a health impairment and a specific learning disability in written expression, among multiple other identified needs.
Parent claims that the student was denied a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) for the 2016-2017 school year, an alleged denial that continues through the date of this decision in the early part of the 2017-2018 school year. The parent claims that the student was denied FAPE, and discriminated against on the basis of disability, under the terms of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, particularly in Section 504 of that Act (“Section 504”).6 The parent also asserts that the Charter School failed to identify the student as a gifted student under Pennsylvania’s gifted education regulations.7
The Charter School counters that at all times it met its obligations to the student under IDEIA/Chapter 711 and Section 504 as its programming was designed to provide FAPE to the student and, as implemented, delivered FAPE to the student. As to Chapter 16, the Charter School argues that Pennsylvania’s Chapter 16 gifted regulations do not apply to it, or to any student enrolled in the Charter School, under the provisions of the Pennsylvania Public School Code of 1949 (“School Code”).8 As such, the Charter School argues that the parent is not entitled to remedy.
For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of the Charter School.
Did the Charter School deny the student FAPE in any of the following particulars?
- Did the Charter School err in its handling of data results from the private third-party provider of education services retained utilizing the compensatory education award under the terms of the order at ODR file #17322-1516KE?
- Was the parent denied meaningful participation in the December 2016 IEP meeting, the March 2017 IEP meeting, and/or through a lack of record-sharing by the Charter School?
- Was the composition of the December 2016 and March 2017 IEP teams appropriate?
- Were the special considerations and/or present levels of academic and functional performance in the December 2016 and April 2017 IEPs prejudicially deficient?
- Was the educational placement and/or calculation of hours-in- regular-education prejudicially deficient?
- Was the post-secondary transition planning in the December 2016 and April 2017 IEPs appropriate?
- Was any aspect of the student’s enrollment information wrongful?
- Should the Charter School have requested permission to evaluate the student for occupational therapy (“OT”) needs?
- Was any exemption of the student from the Pennsylvania’s System of School Assessment (“PSSA”) testing wrongful?
- Did the Charter School fail in any obligation to the student under Chapter 16?
- Did the District discriminate against the student on the basis of disability?