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Friday, April 24, 2015

Education Department Urges Avoidance of Due Process

In The Politics of Autism (forthcoming later this year from Rowman and Littlefield), I devote a chapter to the education politics of autism.  A major topic of this chapter is due process.

From a "Dear Colleague" letter by Acting Assistant Secretary of Education Sue Swenson and Melody Musgrove, Director of the department's Office of Special Education Programs:
Public agencies that seek to force parents who have already exercised their right to file a State complaint into a potentially more adversarial due process hearing harm the “cooperative process” that should be the goal of all stakeholders. Moreover, diverting resources into adversarial processes between parents and public agencies is contrary to Congressional intent in the 2004 amendments to IDEA’s dispute resolution procedures to give parents and schools expanded opportunities to resolve their disagreements in positive and constructive ways. 20 U.S.C. 1400(c)(8). We strongly encourage public agencies to respect parents’ reasonable choice to use the State complaint process rather than a due process complaint hearing. Likewise, before pursuing a due process hearing, a public agency should attempt to engage parents in mediation or other informal dispute resolution procedures, as appropriate.