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REV. GEORGE FITZ AND MRS. PATTY FITZ v. INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 29 AND BLUE MOUNTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICT (06/15/79)

decided: June 15, 1979.

REV. GEORGE FITZ AND MRS. PATTY FITZ, PETITIONERS
v.
INTERMEDIATE UNIT NO. 29 AND BLUE MOUNTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICT, RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Secretary of Education in case of In Re: the Educational Assignment of Peter, a student in the Blue Mountain School District, Special Education Appeal No. 61.

COUNSEL

William R. Mosolino, for petitioners.

W. Alan Williams, with him Lewis & Williams and William D. Hutchinson, for respondents.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.

Author: Mencer

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 371]

George Fitz and his wife Patty (petitioners), parents of Peter Fitz, a 17-year-old hearing-impaired child, have appealed an order of the Secretary of Education (Secretary) denying approval for the educational

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 372]

    placement of Peter in the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD). We affirm.

In October of 1975, Peter Fitz was enrolled by petitioners in the special education classes of Intermediate Unit No. 29 (IU), which services the Blue Mountain School District (District) in which petitioners reside. On January 17, 1977, petitioners, being dissatisfied with Peter's progress at the IU, withdrew him and enrolled him in the residential program at PSD. Petitioners subsequently requested the District to approve Peter's placement at PSD and recommend tuition reimbursement, pursuant to Section 1376 of the Public School Code of 1949 (Code), Act of March 10, 1949, P.L. 30, Art. XIII, as amended, 24 P.S. ยง 13-1376.*fn1 After a program placement conference among

[ 43 Pa. Commw. Page 373]

    the District, petitioners, and representatives of the IU, the District declined petitioners' request, recommending Peter's continued placement at the IU.

On May 6, 1977, a hearing was held to review the District's recommendation. At the hearing, petitioner presented evidence that Peter required a total communication program*fn2 and that the District and IU were incapable of providing such a program. In addition, petitioners contended Peter should be undergoing vocational training instead of his current academic course of study. The District and IU presented testimony showing that its program was indeed a total communication program, that Peter was making progress, and that the IU was capable of preparing a satisfactory vocational program.*fn3 The District, however, was unable to provide more than a general outline as to the nature of the vocational program since the District had never been requested by petitioners to transfer Peter to such a program until after his enrollment at PSD.

The hearing examiner found that the IU provided a total communication program but that the proposed vocational program could not be evaluated until more fully ...


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