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Fiscal Year 2019 BSEA Statistics

Summary of BSEA data for fiscal year 2019

 

 Fiscal Year 2019 Report

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 2019 (covering the period July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019).

Rejected IEPs

 There were approximately 11,979 rejected IEPs received by the BSEA during FY 2019  (representing a slight increase from the 11,900  received in the prior year).

Facilitated IEP TEAM Meetings

This year the BSEA conducted 114 facilitated IEP Team meetings, a decrease from the 142 conducted during the previous year. (Note that 29 requests for facilitated IEP Team meetings had to be declined by the BSEA this year owing to staff unavailability.)

Mediation

 There were 714 mediations conducted in FY 2019 (representing an increase from the 699      conducted during the prior year), with an agreement rate of 83 %.

Due Process Hearings

The BSEA received 483 hearing requests during FY 2019 (an almost identical number to the 481request in the prior year). BSEA hearing officers conducted full hearings resulting in the issuance of 19 decisions (representing an increase from the 13 decisions issued in the previous year). In addition, 48 substantive written rulings were issued (as compared to 35 in the previous year).

Prevailing Party: parents; public school district; other

Of the 19 decisions noted above, fully prevailed in 3,school districts fully; prevailed in 13,was granted in 1, and 2 matters were decisions on appeals of LEA assignment

Representation

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

--in the 3 cases in which parents fully prevailed: 

 parents were represented by counsel in 2 and appeared pro se in 1; the school district was  represented by counsel in all 3 matters;

 --of the 13 cases in which school districts fully prevailed:

parents were represented by counsel in 6 matters, and appeared pro se in 7 cases; the school district was represented by counsel in all 13 matters;

in the 1 case which involved mixed relief, parent was pro se and the school district was represented by counsel;

in the LEA assignment matters, both public school districts and DESE were represented by counsel.

Settlement Conferences

As of the date of this report, settlement conferences were held in 76 of the cases that were filed for hearing in FY 2019 (as compared to 78 in FY 2018 cases), of which 67 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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