Discipline Cases & Expedited Due Process Hearings

I just finished an expedited due process hearing. It seems like everything is on fast forward. Quite an experience.

In cases involving a change of placement of a child with a disability for disciplinary reasons, a request for due process hearing is an expedited hearing. IDEA Section 615(k)(4). In other words, the hearing must begin within twenty school days of the complaint being filed. If there is no intervening summer vacation or hunting season (local color joke - insert your local version here), or snow days, that can be very fast indeed.

Some of the states I work with wondered how the IDEA'04 requirement that there be a resolution meeting figured into the scheduling of an expedited hearing. See 34 C.F.R. Section 300.532(c)(3). So I wrote to OSEP, the federal agency that covers special education. OSEP confirmed my reading: the resolution period of fifteen calendar days runs concurrently with the twenty school days within which the hearing must be scheduled. Letter to Gerl 51 IDELR 166 (OSEP 5/1/8). So a hearing officer must schedule the hearing after the fifteen calendar day resolution period and before the twenty school day deadline. This is complicated by the fact that the parties must disclose their hearing evidence at least five business days before the hearing. Try working that out on a calendar and then work in the calendars of two lawyers and the parties. Fun stuff.

Note that this is the only place in IDEA where all three kinds of days (calendar days= the default type unless otherwise specified; school days and business days) converge. Why not make it extremely confusing ? Why not derf days or personal hygiene days while we are at it? Venting can be healthy!

Anyway, the lawyers did a very nice job, and now my decision is due within ten school days of the end of the hearing. IDEA Section 615(k)(4). Back to work!