Friday, December 6, 2013

Is Washington DC Out Of Whack? Part I

Washington DC
Washington DC (Photo credit: eGuide Travel)

OK that seems like a cheap shot title.  Everything about Washington DC is out of whack- starting with the federal government's inability to compromise, or even to govern for that matter. 

But that's not what I'm talking about here.  I'm talking about special education due process hearings, and more specifically the relief that is awarded when a parent wins a due process hearing. As readers likely already know when parents and school districts disagree about the education of a child with a disability, and other procedural safeguards are not successful, the dispute often winds up in a due process hearing.  The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires parents to generally try the due process system before jumping to court in almost all cases.

I think that maybe the Washington DC cases are sometimes a bit weak on analysis of the relief awarded.  

Let me back up a step.  It is clear as a matter of law that due process hearing officers have broad equitable authority to fashion an appropriate remedy when they find a violation of IDEA.  Forrest Grove Sch Dist v. TA 557 U.S. 230, 129 S.Ct. 2484, 52 IDELR 151 (U.S.  2009).   This includes the ability to award prospective relief in a case where the facts are extreme. See, Draper v. Atlanta Indep Sch System 518 F.3d 1275, 49 IDELR 211 (11th Cir. 2008). But in general there is a preference under IDEA for a student to be placed in public school. RH by Emily H & Matther H v. Plano Independent Sch Dist 54 IDELR 211 (5th Cir 2010).

More on how DC applies this concept this in the next installment.
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