On August 26, 2019, a hearing was held regarding a case between the parents of a student and the Chester-Upland School District. The school district filed a due process complaint to challenge the parent’s right to independent educational evaluations at public expense. It also contested the continued residential placement for the student.
By the agreement of the two parties at the hearing, the following two issues were presented regarding this case:
- Has the school district proven that the parent is not entitled to independent educational evaluations at public expense?
- Has the school district proven that it is not required to continue a residential program for the student?
The student in question, diagnosed with Prader Willi syndrome, receives special education. They were placed in a day program and residential program that are located at the same facility in September 2014. In June 2016, the program administrator wrote to a district representative requesting that the student is discharged from the program, as the parents made complaints of dissatisfaction. However, there was no change in the student’s placement.
In July 2018, the student’s mother signed a prior written notice and consent form for a reevaluation of the student, including behavioral and cognitive assessments. The reevaluation was performed in October 2018, showing that the student’s scores were consistent with their behavioral issues. The reevaluation report does not say the student needs the residential placement to make progress on educational goals but recommends continued residential placement and continuation of their current educational placement. In December 2018, the child’s parents expressed dissatisfaction with the report and requested additional independent educational evaluations.
In a meeting in March 2019, the school district’s special education supervisor said they were not aware of the request for independent evaluations. When the discussion was raised regarding the evaluations, the supervisor abruptly ended the meeting. The supervisor then sent an email to the parent stating that since the evaluations were not performed by the district first, the district would not agree with the request. In April 2019, the district filed a due process complaint. Additional evaluations of the student were conducted in March and April of 2019.
The special education hearing officer, James Gerl, came to a conclusion regarding the issues presented in the case. He found that the school district did not prove the parent is not entitled to independent educational evaluations at public expense. This is due to the fact that the district delayed its filing of a due process complaint and abruptly terminated the meeting to discuss the reevaluation report. In addition to this, the school district demonstrated that a residential placement is not necessary for the student in question for educational purposes.
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