Special Education Hearing Officer
FINAL DECISION AND ORDER
Student’s Name: V.L.
Date of Birth: [redacted]
ODR No. 17354-1516KE
Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]
Catasauqua Area School District 201 N. 14th Street
Catasauqua, PA 18032
Angela Uliana-Murphy, Esq. 106 N. Franklin St., Suite 2 P.O. Box 97
Pen Argyl, PA 18072
David Knerr, Esq. PO Box 3556 Allentown, PA 18106
Dates of Hearing: 03/14/2016, 03/29/2016
Record Closed: 04/19/2016
Date of Decision: 05/02/2016
Hearing Officer: Brian Jason Ford, JD, CHO
Introduction and Procedural History
This matter concerns the educational rights of Student, a student in the Catasauqua Area School District (District). The hearing was requested by the parents (Parents), who allege that the District denied the Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) from the second semester of the 2012-13 school year through April 1, 2016. The Parents demand compensatory education to remedy the alleged denial of FAPE during that period of time.
This matter arises under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. The Parents filed their Complaint on February 10, 2016. The initial hearing session was scheduled for March 14, 2016. ODR sent notice of the initial hearing session on February 18, 2016. The District filed a Response to the Complaint on February 19, 2016. I sent an email to counsel for both parties, explaining my hearing procedures and notifying the parties that the matter was placed into ODR’s electronic exhibits pilot program on February 22, 2016.1 The parties participated in an unsuccessful resolution meeting on February 23, 2016. The resolution period expired on March 11, 2016.
The hearing convened as scheduled on March 14, 2016. Although the hearing proceeded efficiently, two sessions were needed in order to present all relevant evidence. The second session was scheduled shortly after the first concluded, and convened on March 29. The parties then sought an extension of the decision due date to draft and file written closing briefs in lieu of oral closing statements.
I pause here to note that a comprehensive record concerning nearly six school years was concisely presented over two hearing sessions. Counsel for both parties are commended for the efficacy with which they presented their cases. Both Counsels’ clarity of writing, particular in both parties’ closing briefs, is also exemplary.
Based on the Parents’ closing brief, some issues presented during the hearing were resolved after the final hearing session. When the hearing started, the question of what educational services the Student currently needs was presented. In the Parents’ closing brief, they indicate that an IEP was implemented on April 1, 2016. They abandon demands for compensatory education beyond that point, and no longer seek an order directing the District to provide specific services. This is worth highlighting for several reasons: First, this development is indicative of the parties’ willingness to work with each other despite this hearing. Second, this illustrates how time does not stop when a hearing is requested. Too often, parties fail to continue developing a student’s educational plan simply because a hearing has been requested. I am glad that the parties in this case chose to move forward despite this hearing.V-L-Catasauqua-Area-ODRNo-17354-1516KE