Federal due-process requirements for special ed are far more onerous, costly, and stressful than they need to be. That’s the gist of this paper from the American Association of School Administrators (the first in what the AASA promises to be a series on retooling special-ed). After surveying 200 superintendents, the group found that every due-process complaint costs the district an average $10,500 in legal fees—and that many districts end up consenting to parental requests that they consider “unreasonable” or inconsistent with IDEA. The resulting recommendations are straightforward: Bring in third-party facilitators to guide any IEP meetings that are going poorly (in North Carolina, which utilizes facilitators in this way, fewer than 20 percent of facilitated IEP meetings end in adjudication) and, if IEP facilitation and optional mediation fail, hire an independent expert to evaluate students and act as an IEP-creator-of-last-resort. These are sensible proposals that will have significant effect in lawsuit-crazy cities like D.C. and NYC. Congress should consider AASA’s recommendations: IDEA needs an overhaul, and this is a good start.

SOURCE: Sasha Pudelski, Rethinking Special Education Due Process (Alexandria, VA: American Association of School Administrators, April 2013).

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