Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, in case of In Re: The Educational Assignment of Alison P., a student in the Bensalem Township School District, Special Education Opinion No. 274.
Paul L. Stevens, Curtin and Heefner, for petitioners.
John A. Alzamora, Assistant Counsel, with him, Mary M. Rogers, Chief Counsel, for respondents.
Caryl Andrea Oberman, for Amicus Curiae, Development Disabilities Law Project, Inc.
Janet F. Stotland, Education Law Center, Inc., for Amici Curiae, The Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania, The Developmental Disabilities Advocacy Network, and the Pennsylvania Society for Autistic Children and Adults.
Judges MacPhail and Barry, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 513]
The Bucks County Public School Intermediate Unit No. 22 and the Bensalem Township School District (appellants) appeal an order of the Secretary of Education which reversed a decision of a hearing examiner and held that appellants were responsible to pay for costs of summer schooling of Alison P.
Alison P. was a student of the Bensalem Township School District. Prior to entering the seventh grade, she was a good student and a high achiever at the top of her class. During the 1982-83 school year, she began experiencing severe problems. She began undergoing weekly private therapy sessions. For the 1983-84 school year, she transferred to a different middle school and her grades improved.
During the summer of 1984, Alison was enrolled in an overnight camp for the first time. When she exhibited bizarre behavior at this camp, her parents brought her home and admitted her to the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. She was diagnosed as suffering from adjustment disorder, partly because of interfamily relationships. Because her parents disagreed that family relationships were part of the problem, they removed her from the clinic and had her admitted to Friends Hospital. After evaluating Alison, the physicians at Friends Hospital recommended that Alison be placed in a treatment program in a residential school. Following discussions, the parents selected Devereux School. The placement at Devereux was approved by the school district, the intermediate unit and the Department of Education.
Following her placement at Devereux, Alison was diagnosed as being schizophrenic. An individualized educational program was developed for Alison. Although she performed satisfactorily in her academic fields, she had little progress in emotional and social areas. Alison
[ 108 Pa. Commw. Page 514]
had serious problems readjusting after vacations spent at home and as a result, the authorities at Devereux requested in writing that the school district determine if she was eligible for the extended school year program so that she could live at Devereux during the summer. The school district determined that Alison was ineligible for ...