Friday, November 14, 2014
Lessons From The Tri-State Conference: The Third Rail - Part I
I was honored to be asked to present again this year at the Tri-State Special Education Law Conference last week in Omaha. The conference is a joint effort of the Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas Departments of Education and TAESE. It was nice to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones. My session was about bullying and other hot button issues. The participants were very engaged and provided lots of good comments and questions. The session went very well.
One theme that was emerging at the conference is consistent with a point that we have made here. We have often said here that there is a "third rail" of special education law in that courts and hearing officers seem to be more likely to rule against a party where the party has behaved unreasonably or in bad faith. We will explore this point in more detail in Part II, but I felt that it was interesting that a number of speakers, including both of the keynote speakers who shared year in review duties, noted some variation of this theme. Jim Walsh, for example, noted that courts and hearing officers seem to be looking more and more at the relative reasonableness of the parties. Also Julie Weatherly described what she called "RS" cases, ie, really stupid cases. The point also came up during my session. I suppose that this is really a variation of the old saw - good facts make good law. But it was interesting to hear this theme echoed in many places at this conference. These conferences are invaluable as windows to the world of special education law.