YB vs. Charter School

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION
ODR No. 14662-1314 AS

Child’s Name: Y.B.
Date of Birth: [redacted]

Dates of Hearing: 2/27/14

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing:

Parents Parent[s]

Local Education Agency Eastern University Academy Charter School
3300 Henry Avenue

3 Falls Center, Suite 2 Philadelphia, PA 19129

Representative:

Parent Attorney
Daniel Cooper, Esquire Law Offices of Kenneth S. Cooper
45 E. City Avenue, #400 Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

LEA Attorney
Megan Grossman, Esquire Segal McCambridg,
Singer & Mahoney
1818 Market Street, Suite 2600 Philadelphia, PA 19103

Date Record Closed: February 27, 2014

Date of Decision: March 10, 2014

Hearing Officer: Anne L. Carroll, Esq

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Student in this case enrolled in the Charter School at the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year with IDEA eligibility established and a current IEP from the school district where Student was previously enrolled and in which the family continues to reside.

In mid-January, Student received a disciplinary referral for a classroom incident resulting in injury to another student from a small [sharp object] that Student was holding. After discussion of the incident with a School staff member and Student’s Father, Mother signed a form withdrawing Student from the School. Subsequently, she contacted an attorney who filed due a process complaint for an expedited hearing due to the School’s failure to conduct a manifestation determination review, alleging that the School coerced Parents to withdraw Student by threatening expulsion and police action.

The School submitted a motion to dismiss and a sufficiency challenge, arguing that
it has no IDEA obligations to a dis-enrolled Student. The motion and the sufficiency challenge, insofar as it related to the discipline claim, were denied based on the need for a factual record of the circumstances surrounding Student’s leaving the School.

The record compiled at the brief hearing session established that the School did not fully and accurately inform Parents of the IDEA disciplinary process it would be required to implement if Student remained enrolled at the School, or that police notification of the incident was required regardless of the withdrawal. Based on the lack of complete and accurate information before they acted, Parents’ withdrawal of Student from the School was not voluntary. Consequently, the School must reinstate Student, at least until a manifestation determination review is completed, as well as provide compensatory services as required by the IDEA regulations relating to “stay put” placement during IDEA due process proceedings, and educational services required during a disciplinary change of placement.

ISSUES

  1. Did Parents voluntarily withdraw Student from the Charter School, thereby terminating the School’s status as Student’s Local Educational Agency (LEA), and the Charter School’s IDEA obligations to Student?
  2. If not, is Student entitled to compensatory services at any time from January 17 to the present and, if so, for what period, in what amount and in what form?
Y-B-Charter-ODRNo-14662-1314-AS

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