VW vs. West York Area School District

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Child’s Name: V.W.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR No. 17572-15-16-KE

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

West York Area School District 2605 West Market Street
York, PA 17404-5529

Representative:

Daniel M. Fennick, Esquire Anderson, Converse & Fennick 1423 East Market Street
York, PA 17403

Sharon W. Montanye, Esquire Sweet, Stevens, Katz, Williams, LLP 331 East Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901

Date of Hearing: June 7, 2016

Record Closed: June 27, 2016

Date of Decision: July 25, 2016

Hearing Officer: William F. Culleton, Jr., Esquire, CHO

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The child named in this matter (Student)1 was a student of the school district named in this matter (District), during the Student’s ninth grade year (2013-2014 school year). Student is not identified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA) as a child with a disability, nor has Student been provided with accommodations for a disability pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 (section 504).

Student’s mother (Parent) filed this due process request, asserting that the School failed to meet its “child find” obligations under the IDEA and section 504 to identify and evaluate Student, after Student exhibited symptoms of an emotional disturbance. Parent asserts that, because the District failed to comply with its “child find” obligations, Parent was forced to enroll Student in another public school district, and to pay a non-resident fee for that district’s services. Parent seeks only reimbursement of the non-resident fee that Parent paid for Student’s tenth grade year (2014- 2015 school year).

The District denies the alleged procedural violation. It asserts that it was under no obligation to evaluate Student under either law because, based upon what it knew at the time, Student’s emotional disturbance was temporary and had no impact upon Student’s academic achievement.

The hearing was completed in one session. I have determined the credibility of all witnesses and I have considered and weighed all of the evidence of record. I conclude that the School failed to comply with its child find obligations and I order it to reimburse Parent for the non-resident fee that Parent paid.

ISSUES

  1. Did the District fail to perform its “child find” obligations under the IDEA and section 504 during Student’s ninth grade year?
  2. If so, should the hearing officer order the District to reimburse Parent for a non-resident fee or tuition that Parent paid to another public school district in order to enroll Student in that district for Student’s tenth grade year?
V-W-West-York-Area-ODRNo-17572-15-16-KE

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