Friday, November 11, 2011

CADRE Conference Featured Excellent Sessions

The recent CADRE National Symposium on Dispute Resolution in Special Education in Eugene, Oregon featured many excellent sessions.  I presented at two sessions: a 90 minute breakout on training and certification requirements for hearing officers and mediators; and a three hour professional development session on the differences between the various dispute resolution options.  The sessions were well attended and the participants were very involved and engaged in the sessions.  Photographic evidence is provided above.

I also attended a number of fantastic sessions.  As usual, the staff at CADRE found great presenters for this conference.  The best and the brightest people in the field of special education dispute resolution were on hand.  Of the sessions I attended, one of my favorites was an update on special ed law by my new friend Barb Bateman.  Barb is a parent's lawyer and a distinguished author.  She provided a thorough review of recent caselaw.  Two points she made were very interesting to me.
After Barb noted the increase in the number of eligibility cases in the last few years, I asked if she thought that the number of eligibility cases reflects a back door attempt to deal with the recent bad economic conditions.  Her answer was "absolutely."  I have asked that question of a number of people, and I rarely get such a direct answer.

Barb also spoke about dispute resolution.  She said that dispute resolution in special education at the hearing level was not very good.  She discussed the administrative law principle that the large caseloads of the courts are reduced by permitting administrative hearings before agency personnel who have expertise in the subject matter.  Because of the expertise in subject matter, courts generally defer to the findings of the agency hearing officer. She said that IDEA hearing officers and ALJs, though, often don't know special education law and don't seem to want to learn it.  Wow!  Powerful stuff.

There were many other thought-provoking and helpful sessions.  Once again CADRE put on a great conference.    
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