De Mora v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

768 A.2d 904 (2001)

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De Mora v. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
768 A.2d 904 (2001)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

Barbara de Mora (plaintiff) had a daughter named Isabella who experienced developmental delays due to cerebral palsy. Two years after Isabella’s birth, de Mora contacted the Bucks County Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (county) (defendant), seeking early-intervention services for Isabella. The county worked with de Mora to create an individualized family service plan (IFSP) in compliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. The IFSP provided Isabella with physical, speech, and occupational therapy and special instruction for 24 hours per week. After a few months, de Mora requested that additional therapy hours and a new early-intervention training method be added to the IFSP, but the county refused. As a result, de Mora hired a private home therapist for Isabella. De Mora requested a due-process hearing, claiming that Isabella’s IFSP was not appropriate. The evidence showed that Isabella made progress due to her physical therapy, but no substantial evidence was presented that the other services produced meaningful improvements. However, the record showed that Isabella did make progress once the new methodology was introduced through the private therapist. The hearing officer ruled in favor of the county, finding that the IFSP was appropriate and that Isabella was not entitled to additional therapy hours or an alternate methodology. The officer did not address de Mora’s claim for expense reimbursement. De Mora appealed the decision to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Friedman, J.)

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