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T.B. & M.B., As Parents and Nearest Friends of A.B v. Waynesboro Area School District

February 22, 2011

T.B. & M.B., AS PARENTS AND NEAREST FRIENDS OF A.B., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WAYNESBORO AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. J. Andrew Smyser

Hon. John E. Jones III

MEMORANDUM

THE BACKGROUND OF THIS MEMORANDUM IS AS FOLLOWS:

This matter is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of Magistrate Judge J. Andrew Smyser (Doc. 63), filed on January 19, 2011, which recommends that we grant Defendant Waynseboro Area School District's ("the District") Motion for Judgment on the Administrative Record (Doc. 48) and deny Plaintiffs' cross-Motion for Judgment on the Supplemental Administrative Record. (Doc. 52). Plaintiffs filed objections to the R&R on January 28, 2011 (Doc. 64) and the District filed a brief in opposition thereto on February 4, 2011.

Accordingly, this matter is ripe for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will adopt the R&R in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

This action is essentially an appeal of an adverse decision by a Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer with regards to A.B., a 17-year old student residing in the District who has been previously diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder ("ADHD"), speech language impairment and an autism disorder, Asperger's syndrome, since early childhood. Plaintiffs T.B. and M.B. are the parents and natural guardians of A.B ("Plaintiffs" or the "Parents").

The events that gave rise to the matter sub judice occurred during the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years. A detailed factual recitation can be found at pages 5 to 20 of the R&R, and inasmuch as these facts are largely undisputed, we shall only briefly summarize them herein. In short, A.B. struggles to appropriately interact with peers in unstructured, casual circumstances, and as a result has been both a victim and perpetrator of bullying while a student in the District. Following the last documented bullying incident at the District, A.B. exhibited suicidal behavior and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Upon release, A.B. received homebound instruction rather than return to school for the remainder of the school year. The Parents rejected the District's Individualized Education Program ("IEP") for the following school year, asserting that it did not address the problems which had lead to A.B.'s previous suicidal ideation. Instead, A.B. was enrolled at St. Maria Goretti School, a small private school, and the Parents sought reimbursement for that education from the District.

A Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officer held a hearing that spanned the following four dates: February 10 and 17, March 19, and April 28, 2009. Testimony was received from the following individuals: Danny Crum, Jr., the District's psychologist; Betsy Metz, the District's 9th grade learning support teacher; Holly Hess, the District's 8th grade learning support teacher; Shelly McDonald, speech pathologist; Dr. Grossberg, A.B.'s pediatrician; Kimberly Calimer, assistant principal of the District's middle school; Barry Donohue, 8th grade social studies teacher; Jane Wishard, 8th grade reading teacher; Patrick McDonald, 7th grade English teacher and homebound instruction teacher; Lois Hershberger, a high school emotional support teacher and homebound instruction teacher; Heather Dale Leease, a homebound instruction teacher; Yvette Braxton, therapist; Jerry Brown, therapeutic staff support at Mountain Valley Center where A.B. participated on the swim team; Jean Purnell, director of special education for the District; and Kelly Metnzer, A.B.'s case manager at Franklin County Mental Health. A.B.'s Parents also testified at the hearing.

Following the hearing, the Hearing Officer concluded that:

(1) the District had offered and implemented an appropriate IEP for A.B. for the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 school years and that the District had provided A.B. with a free appropriate public education ("FAPE"), thus the Plaintiffs are not entitled to an award of compensatory education;

(2) that although the IEP proposed by the District for the 2008/2009 school year was appropriate, it would need to be updated and would not necessarily be appropriate for the 2009/2010 school year;

(3) that A.B. is not a student with Asperger's syndrome; and

(4) that Plaintiffs are not entitled to reimbursement for the Independent Educational Evaluation ("IEE") or for ...


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