Special Education Hearing Officer

ODR No. 01650-1011AS

Child’s Name: T.S.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

Date of Hearing: 12/ 9/2010


Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

School District Nazareth Area
One Education Plaza


Parent Attorney
Mark Voigt, Esq.
Plymouth Meeting Executive Campus 600 W. Germantown Pike, Suite 400 Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462

School District Attorney David Conn, Esq.
331 E. Butler Avenue New Britain, PA 18901

Date Record Closed: December 15, 2010

Date of Decision: December 30, 2010

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq.


There is no dispute in this case that Student, currently a mid-teen-aged pupil in the Nazareth Area School District high school, is IDEA eligible and appropriately receives numerous special education services from the District. Student’s multiple disabilities arose from a traumatic injury that occurred at birth and for which Parents recently agreed to a monetary settlement in a medical malpractice case.

Quite unusually, the dispute in this case is closely related to the settlement of Parents’ court action and implicates the requirement that the appropriate public education the District is required to provide for Student must be at no cost to the Parents, i.e., the “Free” component of FAPE. The essential question in this case is whether the District is presently liable for repaying the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) for funding the District received for some of the services it provided to Student. DPW is asserting a lien against the medical malpractice settlement, seeking reimbursement of those funds.

A short hearing session was held in this matter on December 9, 2010 and the parties submitted legal argument in support of their respective positions. For the reasons explained below, the District will be ordered to immediately relieve Parents of all responsibility for the welfare lien.


Is the School District presently required to repay the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for a lien asserted against Parents but arising from payments the District received from DPW to provide services to Student?


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