Friday, September 26, 2014

The New GAO Report on Special Education Dispute Resolution: More Thoughts

English: The headquarters of the Government Ac...
 The headquarters of the Government Accountability Office in Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, we reported on the new GAO report on dispute resolution in special education.  You can read that post here.  

The report is very controversial.  It appears to reflect a dispute between the Congress (or the GAO, an investigative arm of Congress) about dispute resolution in special education.  Apparently in talking with the state officials, the GAO came away with a conclusion that the data reporting required by the Office of Special Education Programs is not transparent because hearings are taking a very long time to complete and OSEP only requires states to report the percentage (& raw numbers) of hearing decision that were issued within the 45 day timeline or an extension thereof.  The trouble, according to the GAO, is that some hearings have many extensions or long extensions so it is difficult to find meaning in the data.

Perhaps even more interesting is the GAO conclusion that OSEP's method of collecting data on parent involvement may be adversely affecting dispute resolution.  It is the last part of that sentence that is very interesting.  The report seems to be saying that some state officials feel that parents do not understand their dispute resolution rights- or at least OSEP's data is not capturing this,  I do believe that this is a problem at least in some states.  But I wonder how a state quantifies this problem and neatly places it in a report.

That's a lot to chew on.  I may be overreacting, but this report seems like pretty big news.

We will have more on the GAO report, which you should really read.  It has a wealth of information of dispute resolution in special education, and it will make you really happy if you don't live in DC, New York or Puerto Rico!  

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