DURING TIMES OF DISAGREEMENT, CAN A DISTRICT SIT BACK AND FORCE THE PARENTS TO FILE FOR DUE PROCESS?

In most instances where a child is already receiving special education services, the simple answer is no. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”) provides procedural protections to parents and local educational agencies (your school district). One of those procedural protections is the allowance of an impartial due process hearing with respect to the provision of a free and appropriate public education to a student (“FAPE”). Parents and the local educational agency may file for due process to resolve disputes related to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student.

School districts have a mandatory responsibility to file for due process when a disagreement arises with parents of a student receiving special education services. The school district is required to continue to provide the services set out in the student’s IEP while they resolve the remaining disputes. Failure to request due process for a protracted period of time is a serious procedural violation of state law. Porter v. Manhattan Beach Unified School Dist. (C.D.Cal., Dec. 21 2004 (Case No. CV 00-8402 GAF)) 105 LRP 40577.

The school’s responsibility to file for due process also extends to the obligation to have an IEP in place at the beginning of the year. (34 C.F.R. 300.323(a), see also M.M. v. School Dist. Of Greenville County (4th Cir., 2002) 37 IDELR 183) School districts “cannot excuse their failure to satisfy the IDEA’s procedural requirements by blaming the parents.

 

Something to consider…. The party who files the administrative complaint has the burden of persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence. (Schaffer v. Weast (2005) 546 U.S. 49) It isn’t always advantageous to file due process when the school district has the obligation to file. Please also understand that a procedural violation alone doesn’t entitle a parent to seek relief from the school district. If you would like more information regarding this issue, contact me at (925) 551-1041 to discuss the facts of your particular case.

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