Perry Zirkel, an education and law professor at Lehigh University and a special education expert, said due process hearings have increased nationally over the last two decades, a trend mirrored in Pennsylvania. He said the state ranks among the 10 most litigious in the nation in special education.
And it’s showing up here in the midstate.
Central Dauphin School District’s legal spending increased by more than 260 percent from the 1997-99 school year period to the 2007-09 school year period. Over the same 10 years, legal spending in the West Shore School District increased by about 67 percent while other districts saw smaller increases.
Of those legal bills, nearly half of Central Dauphin’s for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years went toward legal fees pertaining to special education.
Broadening definitions have put more conditions under the special education umbrella and parents’ increasing awareness of their child’s legal rights have contributed to increased special education enrollment and litigation, he said.
See an article by Zirkel in Principal.