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GREGORY R. v. PENN DELCO SCHOOL DISTRICT

April 17, 2003

GREGORY R., a minor by and through his parents, Gregory R. and Marion R., and GREGORY R. and MARION R., individually and on their own behalf, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE PENN DELCO SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER, Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Presently before the Court are the Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment of Defendant Penn Delco School District ("District") and of Plaintiffs Gregory R., a minor by and through his parents, and Marion R. and Gregory R., individually and on their own behalf. In this case, Plaintiffs brought claims for compensatory education, tuition reimbursement and

[262 F. Supp.2d 490]

      monetary damages for the District's failure to provide a "free appropriate public education" as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1400 et seq. Plaintiffs bring this action under IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment and deny Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

  Gregory R. is a child with disabilities under the IDEA. He resides with his parents in the Penn Delco school district. In 1995-96, Gregory attended kindergarten and the first half of first grade at a private school. Delaware County Intermediate Unit ("DCIU") had been providing Gregory with speech and language therapy since June 1994.

  At the parents' request, the District evaluated Gregory and found him to be eligible for special education services. On November 27, 1996, the District developed an Individualized Educational Program ("IEP") and a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement ("NOREP"). The parents approved the IEP and NOREP and enrolled Gregory for the second half of first grade in a district school, Aston Elementary.

  Dissatisfied with Gregory's progress at Aston Elementary, the parents unilaterally placed Gregory in Centreville School, an independent special education day school, at the start of the 1997-98 school year. Gregory attended Centreville School from second grade (1997-98) through sixth grade (2001-02).

  On October 31, 2000, the parents contacted the District's director of special education to initiate discussions about middle school. At a meeting on November 28, 2000, the parents orally requested that District support Gregory's tuition at the Centreville School. On April 25, 2001, the parents made a written request for an evaluation for special education services. Due to inexcusable delay, the District did not prepare and develop an IEP and NOREP until April 18, 2002. On May 14, 2002, the parents rejected the IEP and requested a due process hearing. Until this time, the parents had not expressed any dissatisfaction to the District regarding Gregory's IEP or his education.

  At the administrative hearing, the state hearing officer found the proposed IEP inappropriate and granted tuition reimbursement for the 2001-02 school year and 2001 summer school. The hearing officer, however, denied relief prior to the 2001 school year. On November 12, 2002, the state Appeals Panel affirmed the hearing officer's determinations.

  Plaintiffs bring this action claiming that federal law in this Circuit justifies granting further relief prior to the 2001-02 school year. Defendant now moves for summary judgment, claiming that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiffs also filed a motion for summary judgment.

  DISCUSSION

 I. Legal Standard

  In deciding a motion for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), a court must determine "whether there is a genuine issue of material fact and, if not, whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Medical Protective Co. v. Watkins, 198 F.3d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1999) (internal citation omitted). When making this determination, courts should view the facts, and reasonable inferences ...


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