Special Education Hearing Officer
Child’s Name: ZR
Date of Birth: [redacted]
Date of Hearing: November 15, 2011
ODR Case # 2285-1112-AS
Parties to the Hearing:
School District of Cheltenham Township 2000 Ashborne Road
Elkins Park, PA 19027
Representative: Pro Se
Claudia Huot, Esq.
Wisler Pearlstine LLP
Blue Bell Executive Campus 460 Norristown Road/Suite 110 Blue Bell, PA 19422
Date Record Closed: November 15, 2011
Date of Decision: December 8, 2011
Hearing Officer: Jake McElligott, Esquire
INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Student (hereinafter “student”)1 is an early-teen-aged student residing in the School District of Cheltenham Township (“District”) who has been identified as a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEIA”) and Pennsylvania special education regulations (“Chapter 14”).2 Specifically, the student has been identified as a student with autism and mental retardation.
The student’s mother, proceeding pro se, requested a due process hearing by filing a complaint with the Office for Dispute Resolution (“ODR”), listing the Chester County Intermediate Unit (“Chester County IU”) as the local education agency responsible for the student’s education. In a section labeled “nature of the problem”, mother referenced the District by name. Therefore, as the only school district mentioned in the complaint, ODR entered the complaint against the District.
Upon receiving the complaint from ODR, the District filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that while it funds the student’s program at a residential program, the facility is geographically located in [redacted] School District (“other school district”). Therefore, pursuant to §13-1306 of the Pennsylvania School Code3 (“Section 1306”), the District argued that the other school district, as the school district where the facility is located, is responsible as the local education agency for the student’s special education program. As such, the District sought dismissal of mother’s complaint against it based on substantive allegations of a denial of a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”).
For the reasons set forth below, I find in favor of District.