Hearing Officer Again Finds Student with Autism Denied Free and Appropriate Public Education

C.H. is a 10th-grader with Autism and a severe language disorder as well as artistic talent. We have been supporting C.H. for the last two school years as the School District of Philadelphia continues to fail to provide him the services he needs. Following a decision we secured during the last school year, this August a special education officer again found that the School District of Philadelphia failed to provide C.H. a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

C.H.’s IEP specified that the District provide an iPad to C.H. at the beginning of the school year as well as one-to-one aid and speech and language therapy. The District failed to provide an iPad until March, and only began providing an aide in January. The hearing officer determined that these failures denied C.H. FAPE. The officer noted in the decision that, “The District’s bureaucratic difficulties did not excuse this failure to provide the required technology.” The office also acknowledged that the District’s failure to provide a one-to-one aide resulted in C.H. not being able to attend regular education or art classes.

To remedy these denials, the hearing officer ordered 120 hours of annual training for the student as well as the student’s parents and teacher, and one-to-one aid on how to use education applications on the iPad to assist C.H.

The District was also ordered the District to fund C.H.’s attendance at a community art class and a community physical activity sports program.

The hearing officer determined that the District’s adoption of a “distributive approach” for speech and language services “represented a lack of individual determination to the type, frequency, and amount of speech and language services” that C.H. required.

To remedy to this fault, the special hearing officer rejected the District’s proposal of 60 minutes per month of speech/language therapy and instead required three 45-minute sessions per week.

Finally, the hearing officer found that C.H.’s parent was not denied “meaningful participation” in the IEP process and ordered no further remedy for C.H.’s extended school year services.

The Law Center is considering appealing these two orders not provided in the decision.

Click here to read the full decision.