ZC vs. Upper Moreland Twp. Sch. Dist.

Pennsylvania
Special Education Hearing Officer

DECISION

Student’s Name: Z.C.

Date of Birth: [redacted]

ODR No. 14980-13-14-AS

CLOSED HEARING

Parties to the Hearing: Parent[s]

Upper Moreland Twp. Sch. Dist. 2900 Terwood Road
Willow Grove, PA 19090-1431

Representative:

Caryl Andrea Oberman, Esquire
Law Offices of Caryl A. Oberman, LLC 705 North Easton Road
Willow Grove, PA 19090

Jane M. Williams, Esquire Christina M. Stephanos, Esquire Sweet, Stevens, Katz, Williams 331 East Butler Avenue
New Britain, PA 18901

Dates of Hearing: July 9, 2014, September 12, 2014, September 17, 2014, September 30, 2014

Record Closed: October 23, 2014

Date of Decision: November 10, 2014

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

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Student named in the title page of this decision (Student) is an eligible resident of the school district named in the title page of this decision (District). (NT 8.) The District has identified Student with Autism and Other Health Impairment [redacted]. (NT 8-9.) Parents assert that the District has failed to offer or provide to the Student a free appropriate public education (FAPE), as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq. (IDEA), and the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U. S. C. §794 et seq. (section 504). Parents seek reimbursement of tuition and transportation costs, having placed Student in a private school (School) unilaterally. They also seek reimbursement for privately provided summer services and appropriate relief for alleged discrimination due to predetermination of placement. (NT 57-70.)

The District asserts that it offered an appropriate program and placement; that the placement chosen by the Parents was inappropriate; and that tuition reimbursement should be barred on equitable grounds. It asserts that there are no grounds for reimbursement of summer services, and denies predetermination and discrimination.

The hearing was concluded in four sessions. The parties submitted written summations, and the record closed upon receipt of those summations. I will order the District to reimburse Parents for tuition and transportation costs for the 2014-2015 school year. I deny reimbursement for services purchased in the summer of 2014, and I conclude that there was no retaliation.

ISSUES

  1. Did the District fail to offer a FAPE, in violation of the IDEA and section 504, for Student’s 2014-2015 school year?
  2. Was the private placement selected by Parents appropriate?
  3. Should the hearing officer, exercising statutory and equitable authority, order the District to reimburse Parents for private school tuition and costs for the 2014-2015 school year?
  4. Should the hearing officer order the District to reimburse Parents for private summer school tuition and costs for the summer of 2014?1
  5. Did the District discriminate against Parents by precluding their meaningful participation in the educational planning for Student, by predetermining Student’s placement for the 2014-2015 school year, in violation of the IDEA and/or section 504?
Z-C-Upper-Moreland-ODRNo-14980-13-14-AS

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