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Report Fiscal Year 2018 BSEA Statistics

Summary of BSEA data for fiscal year 2018

Organization: Bureau of Special Education Appeals
Date published: January 10, 2019

Overview

The Bureau of Special Education Appeals ("BSEA"), an independent subdivision of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals, conducts mediations and due process hearings to resolve disputes among parents, school districts, private schools and state agencies. 1 The BSEA derives its authority from both federal law and regulations (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, "IDEA") and Massachusetts law and regulations. (MGL ch.71B).

A parent or a school district may request mediation and/or a due process hearing on any matter concerning the eligibility, evaluation, placement, individualized education program (IEP), provision of special education, or procedural protections for students with disabilities, in accordance with state and federal law. 2

In addition, a parent may request a hearing on any issue involving the denial of a free appropriate public education guaranteed by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Mediations and hearings are conducted by impartial mediators and hearing officers who do not have personal or professional interests that would conflict with their objectivity in the proceeding. The BSEA comprises six hearing officers (all of whom are attorneys), six mediators, a coordinator of mediation, a scheduling coordinator, administrative staff and a director.

What follows is a summary of BSEA data for fiscal year 2018 (covering the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018).

Rejected IEPs

There were approximately 11,900 rejected IEPs received by the BSEA during FY 2018  (representing an increase from the 11,400 received in the prior year).

Facilitated IEP Team Meetings

This year the BSEA facilitated 142 IEP Team meetings, an increase from the 118 conducted during the previous year. (Note: 44 requests for Team meeting facilitations had to be declined by the BSEA this year owing to staff unavailability.)

Mediation

There were 699 mediations conducted in FY 2018 (representing a decrease from the 742 conducted during the prior year), with an agreement rate of 85%.

Due Process Hearings

The BSEA received approximately 481 hearing requests during FY 2018 (representing a decrease from the 495 requests in the prior year).  BSEA hearing officers conducted full hearings resulting in the issuance of 13 decisions (representing a decrease from the 22 decisions issued in the previous year). In addition, 35 substantive written rulings were issued (as compared to 50 in the previous year).

Prevailing Party: parents; public school district; other

Of the 13 decisions noted above, parents fully prevailed in 1, school districts fully prevailed in 11, and 1 decision involved a finding against a private school.

Representation

Statistics with respect to outcome in relation to representation are as follows:

in the 1 case in which parents fully prevailed:

  • parents were represented by counsel and the school district was represented by counsel;

of the 11 cases in which school districts fully prevailed:

  • parents were represented by counsel in 2 matters, by an advocate in 1 matter and appeared pro se in 7 cases;
  • in one case the parent failed to appear at the hearing.
  • the school district was represented by counsel in all 11 matters;
  • in the 1 case which involved a finding against a private school, parent was pro se and both the public school district and the private school were represented by counsel.

Settlement Conference

As of the date of this report, settlement conferences were held in 78 of the cases that were filed for hearing in FY 2018 (as compared to 69 in the previous year), of which 72 were settled.

 

 

1 In addition to mediation and due process hearings (both of which must be offered pursuant to federal law), the BSEA offers alternative dispute resolution processes including IEP Team meeting facilitations and settlement conferences.

2 A school district may not, however, request a hearing on a parent's failure or refusal to consent to initial evaluation or initial placement of a child in a special education program, or to written revocation of parental consent for further provision of special education and related services.

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