Overlegalization of Special Ed Disputes - Part III

Before I get to the possibility of changes to the due process system in a future post, a number of people responded to the most recent post with some good questions. Some are happy with the due process hearing system, many are not. One thing that is clear is that the system isn't working the way the folks who set it up meant it to work. There is a lot more court-like behavior than not in a hearing.

Even the name "due process" hearing supports the notion that those who designed the system envisioned something more like a welfare hearing than the IBM v. Xerox trial. Even where the hearing officer is managing the case carefully, the time involved is extreme. One of the reasons that the Supreme Court approved reimbursement for unilateral placements in the Burlington decision was the extraordinary length of time it takes to navigate the due process system and subsequent court appeals.

A number of readers have asked for the states that generate 80% of all due process cases. My numbers may be old, but I suspect that they are still valid. According to the GAO study, the key states are Washington, DC (by far the league leader in these stats), California, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. I believe the current statistics are comparable, although you have to be very patient to dig them out. Here's a link.

Thanks for the great questions and responses. In the next post in this series, I'll take a look at some possible changes in the due process hearing system.