To:Interested Parties

From:Special Education Appeals

Date:October 2005

 

The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA), physically located within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is responsible for conducting impartial due process hearings and for providing mediation services when school districts and parents disagree on the provision of special education services or Section 504 accommodations. The Bureau consists of eight hearing officers, eight mediators, support staff, a scheduling coordinator, a receptionist, a coordinator of mediation, an assistant director and a director.

This memorandum is intended to summarize analysis of Special Education Appeals data for fiscal year 2005 (covering the period July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005). Although clearly important, it should be noted that numbers alone cannot fully reflect the day to day work of the Bureau.

Rejected Individualized Educational Plans

During fiscal year 2005, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals received 6,009 rejected Individualized Educational Plans, an increase of 494 over fiscal year 2004.

Mediation

During fiscal year 2005 there were 660 mediations concerning special education and Section 504 issues conducted by the eight BSEA mediators.

Mediations are scheduled within 30 days when both parties indicate a desire to resolve disputed issues through this process. A mediation session lasts an average of two to four hours, with some cases requiring more than one session. At the end of the mediation, if an agreement is reached, the mediator writes an agreement reflecting the terms reached by the participants. Eighty-six (86)% of the mediations conducted during fiscal year 2005 resulted in written agreements, representing a 2% increase over the previous year.

Special Education Appeals
Mediation History

School YearNumber of
Mediations
Number of
Mediation
Agreements
Percentage of Mediations
Held Resulting in
Mediation Agreements
2002-0363350279%
2003-0460151284%
2004-0566056786%

Hearings

There were 768 requests for hearings during the 2005 fiscal year. The Bureau of Special Education Appeals conducted full hearings resulting in 35 decisions, with extensive, substantive written rulings in at least 12 cases. The remaining cases were either resolved prior to proceeding to the formal hearing process or subsequent to the onset of the hearing.

It should be noted that hearing officer involvement was significant in the vast majority of cases even if a decision was not rendered.

Prevailing Party

Total # of decisions: 35

Parents/StudentSchool DistrictMixed ReliefOther
81971

(The "Other" category reflects decisions in which a state agency may be involved or a dispute exists between two school districts. In either situation, both parties may have received some relief.)

Representation and Prevailing Party

Of the 35 cases that resulted in decisions, the breakdown of parties' representation was as follows:

  • Of the 8 cases in which parents prevailed--parents were represented by counsel in 5, by an advocate in 1, and were pro se (not represented) in 2. In each of these cases the school was represented by an attorney.
  • Of the 19 cases in which schools prevailed--schools were represented by counsel in all 19 cases in which they prevailed, and of these, parents had counsel in 8, were represented by an advocate in 3 and were pro se in 8.
  • Of the 7 cases involving mixed relief, parents were represented by counsel in 4 and were pro se in 3. The school had counsel in all 7.

Special Education Appeals
Decision History

School YearNumber of
Hearing Requests
Total Number
of Decisions
Favoring Decisions*
   ParentsSchoolOther**
1986-873595528(50.9%)18(32.7%)9(16.4%)
1987-883725427(41.7%)22(40.7%)5(9.2%)
1988-893444820(41.7%)18(37.5%)10(20.8%)
1989-903854726(55.32%)16(34.3%)5(10.64%)
1990-913984415(31.83%)22(50.0%)7(18.18%)
1991-924084115(36.59%)16(39.02%)10(24.39%)
1992-934263614(38.89%)15(41.67%)7(19.44%)
1993-945804013(32.5%)20(50%)7(17.5%)
1994-95581329(28%)15(47%)8(25%)
1995-96632368(22%)25(70%)3(8%)
1996-975585012(24%)30(60%)8(16%)
1997-98603369(25%)21(58%)6(17%)
1998-99620277(26%)14(52%)6(22%)
1999-006713312(36.3%)14(42.4%)7(21.2%)
2000-01583308(26.5%)14(47%)8(26.5%)
2001-025663011(37%)18(60%)1(3%)
2002-03647277(26%)13(48%)7(26%)
2003-046485320(38%)20(38%)13(24%)
2004-05768358(23%)19(54%)8(23%)