A New “Burden” for Parents

When parents and administrators can’t agree on a child’s IEP, families may need to turn to a due process hearing.

What if you can’t reach agreement with the school on the provisions of your child’s IEP? You’re entitled to a “due process” hearing before a hearing officer or an administrative law judge. A due process hearing is a complex legal proceeding, often requiring legal representation for the family, testimony from independent experts, and a review of meeting transcripts, test scores, and other documents.

Recently, due process became even more complicated for families. In November 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parents have the legal burden of proving that a plan doesn’t meet their child’s needs. Thus it’s more important than ever to document your child’s difficulties, to be assertive about receiving progress reports, and to push for changes to his IEP as the need arises.

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