OAH 2014-15 Fourth Quarter Report Shows Risks of Filing

mike photoAuthor: Michael Tucker, Attorney at Law 

Summary: On August 14, 2015, the California Office of Administrative Hearings, Special Education Division, released its fourth quarterly report detailing special education filing activity for 2014-2015.  This report is useful to help school administrators and parents understand special education litigation’s complex nature.

Facts

Due Process Hearing Requests:

3,574

Fully Adjudicated Hearings:

83

Hearings Pending:

3,110

Percentage of Cases Resolved without Hearing:

98%

District Due Process Filing:

445

Student Due Process Filing:

3,214

District Prevailed:

42

Student Prevailed:

9

Split Decisions:

32

 

Discussion

Based on the above statistics a vast majority of Due Process filings are settled before reaching a hearing decision.  Indeed, only 2% of all due process filings are fully adjudicated with 98% resolved before reaching a hearing.  Most filings are initiated by the student.  Although the student only prevailed in 9 of the 83 cases heard, the administrative law judge split the decision 32 times.  Also of note is that only 11 of the 83 cases decided, or 13% were appealed.

Conclusion

As with most types of litigation, special education due process filings are frequently resolved before a hearing.  In all litigation, the parties are essentially forfeiting their ability to craft their own settlement and are requesting that a third party decide the outcome for them.  This data indicates that parties are very effective when settling cases.  It also indicates that both the districts and students find controlling settlement terms is preferable to submission to a third party.  As with any litigation, each party must carefully consider the relative costs and benefits before filing for a due process hearing.

 

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