Monday, November 17, 2008

What Makes a Hearing Officer Good?

I have just returned from the annual conference of the National Association of Hearing Officials. As usual, the sessions were excellent and the networking opportunities were great. I was recertified as a Certified Hearing Official, and I also spent a lot time with the usual suspects, of course. The highlight of the conference for me was receiving the Bill Kane Board of Directors Award for service to the Association and its members. It is an excellent conference for hearing officers of all types, although the membership includes a growing number of special ed HOs.

One of the more thoughtful participants asked me what traits or characteristics made a person a good hearing officer (of any kind - not just special ed). The context of the question is how do you interview potential hearing officers and how do you train new ones. I've gotten similar questions specific to special ed hearing officers through previous blog comments, but I've never thought about the context of hiring and training HOs. My initial response was fairness, professional demeanor and common sense. What I didn't know the answer to was how you interview for these traits or how you train after a hire. I know that the hearing officer job is more like an art than a science, and maybe that is why it is so hard to hire and train them. I like the metaphor of a paratrooper being dropped behind enemy lines.

I'm interested in what you think about this question. I know that we have a diverse readership made up of a large sample of people interested in special education law. Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated. Thanks.


  1. I think you just need to come up with some questions that would best assess the HOs, and rate their responses. Maybe if they have had previous work, then ask for some references.

    -Carlyn H