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Keystone Central School Dist. v. E.E.

July 10, 2006

KEYSTONE CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, PLAINTIFF JUDGE JONES
v.
E.E., BY AND THROUGH HIS MOTHER AND LEGAL GUARDIAN, H.E., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Jones III United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS ORDER IS AS FOLLOWS:

Pending before the Court are Plaintiff Keystone Central School District's Motion for Judgment on the Record or, Alternatively, Summary Judgment (doc. 10) and Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (doc. 12), both filed on April 3, 2006.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case is an appeal of a decision and order rendered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Special Education Due Process Appeal Review Panel. On November 14, 2005 this case was removed to this Court from the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas. (Rec. Doc. 1). On April 3, 2006, the parties filed the instant cross-motions for judgment on the administrative record.

The cross-motions have been fully briefed and are therefore ripe for our review.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant E.E. is a minor student residing within the Plaintiff Keystone Central School District and is identified as a child with a disability, namely an emotional disturbance, as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). (Rec. Docs. 10 at 2; 12 at 1-2). The Keystone Central School District ("District" or "Keystone") is the local educational agency responsible for providing E.E. with a free and appropriate education ("FAPE") under the IDEA. (Rec. Docs. 10 at 2; 12 at 2). Keystone developed an Individualized Education Program ("IEP") for E.E. and a related Notice of Recommended Educational Placement ("NOREP") on May 2, 2002. E.E.'s maternal grandmother, acting as his legal guardian at that time, attended the IEP meeting and signed a NOREP at Keystone's request.*fn1 (Rec. Docs. 10 at 4; 12 at 2).

On March 11, 2003, the IEP team met to discuss various issues concerning E.E., including concerns that E.E. was sleeping in class, concerns brought up by his grandmother, and that the IEP team wold look to transition E.E. from the alternative school to the middle school once E.E. started achieving passing grades.

(Rec. Doc. 12 at 3).

Thereafter, at the beginning of the 2003-2004 school year, E.E. was placed at the West Perry Youth Development Center in Loysville, Pennsylvania and while at this placement, the West Perry School District developed an IEP for E.E. (Rec. Docs. 12 at 3; 10 at 5). E.E. thereafter returned to the Keystone District on February 14, 2004. (Rec. Doc. 12 at 3). Also during this time period, E.E.'s mother resumed her parental and guardianship role and began to seek out advocate groups. (Rec. Doc. 10 at 5).

On April 15, 2004, the Keystone IEP team had a meeting. At a point in time at or after the meeting, the District decided to implement the Loysville/West Perry IEP with the exception that the District would not use the 'Saxon Math' program. (Rec. Docs. 12 at 3; 10 at 5). E.E.'s mother approved the amended Loysville/West Perry IEP and the District's NOREP. (Rec. Doc. 10 at 6). However, E.E.'s mother sent a letter to the District, dated May 19, 2004 expressing concerns regarding E.E.'s education. E.E.'s mother drafted this letter with the assistance of an advocate. (Rec. Doc. 12 at 4).

Thereafter, on May 21, 2004, the District held another IEP meeting and as a result, the IEP team started behavioral observation of E.E. for a functional behavior assessment ("FBA"). (Rec. Doc. 12 at 4). By June 2004, the FBA was partially complete and contained useful findings. However, it appears that E.E.'s mother was discontent with the behavior plan developed as a result of the FBA and filed her request for a due process hearing on July 28, 2004. (Rec. Docs. 10 at 6; 12 at 5). In the interim between the request and the hearing, an IEP plan, approved by E.E.'s mother, was in place for the 2004-20005 school year. (Rec. Doc. 10 at 6).*fn2

On September 9, 2004, the Hearing Officer met with the parties and ordered additional testing of E.E. Psychiatrist testing was ordered by the Hearing Officer and E.E. was evaluated on June 15, 2005. (Rec. Docs. 12 at 6; 10 at 7). The psychiatric report concluded that E.E.'s mental illness "severely hampered his education." (Rec. Docs. 10 at 7; 12 at 6). Based on the psychiatric evaluation, the Hearing Officer ordered changes to E.E.'s IEP for the 2005-2006 school year to include, inter alia, a provision that if E.E. refuses to follow directives, particularly for remaining at his assigned location, that the school would involve civil ...


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