Three Delaware Due Process Hearing and two Administrative Complaint decisions were put on the Delaware Department of Education website with varied results. The Due Process cases involved the Colonial School District, Brandywine School District, and a combined case against Delaware College Prep and the Delaware DOE. As well, an Administrative Complaint decision involving the Red Clay Consolidated School District prevailed for the district where another Administrative Complaint involving the Milford School District prevailed for the student.
In most of these cases, there were complaints around Independent Educational Evaluations in terms of the costs and the timing of them. Other cases involved residential treatment center costs, a school making sure IEP accommodations were followed, and statute of limitations. These are important decisions to read. Parents can avoid many pitfalls by reading these and seeing what they shouldn’t do. Special education is complicated enough but even a careless error on a parent’s part can lead to future ramifications. All schools, districts, and teachers should read these as well. Special education will never get better unless the players are informed of their rights in all sides of the issues. Many of these cases involve timing, on either the school or the parent’s part. The Brandywine case is very interesting.
Many schools in Delaware start up again in two weeks. Many parents will be requesting IEPs or updates to existing ones. Now is the time to see what cases are setting precedence!
Due Process Hearing: Colonial School District Vs. Student
A plaintiff prevailed in a very important special education case regarding tuition reimbursement and compensatory damages in Pennsylvania. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania reversed a decision by a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer. The Federal District Court ruled in L.G. v. West Chester Area School District, that the plaintiff was denied a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and the student was entitled to a full tuition reimbursement for a private school as opposed to the earlier ruling for limited tuition reimbursement.
The case utilized both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA as arguments for cause in arguments. For the 504 argument, which covers “any disability which substantially impacts learning or other major life activities”, the plaintiff, represented by McAndrews Law Firm, argued the school district did not provide appropriate Child Find in identifying a student with disabilities. Despite behavior interventions and attendance issues, the school did not perform their obligatory responsibility as required by IDEA as well. As well, the child did not receive an IEP while in the 2nd and 3rd grade at the school district.
This case won a good deal of victories for special education advocacy. It established FAPE, Child Find duties, and tuition reimbursement as clear avenues for special needs parents to advocate for their children, not only in Pennsylvania, but nation-wide.