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October 12, 2005

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Laura J. Lewis

I am a parent of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome. My biggest frustration in dealing with schools in IEP meetings is that yes, they allow us to be involved, but when it comes to disagreeing with them, they basically "out-vote" us as parents and write in the IEP whatever they want. I was actually told that if I didn't like it, I could file due process. So the fact is that I am only an equal member as long as I agree with them. The last 4 IEP meetings held for my son had no less that 13 school representative and as many as 16 school representatives at each meeting. How can my husband and I out-vote that?!

Patricia Felvey

Congratulations on your invitation to participate in the Hearing Officer
Conference. In my opinion, your personal experience and extensive knowledge regarding Special Education Law will be an extremely valuable part of this training process.

Although my comments maybe too late to be considered, I believe having the HO's establish a strict guideline regarding the allotted time each witness may testify and whether the particular witness has relevance to that particular case would be an extremely important part of this process.

As I am sure you recall, during our Due Process Hearing, the opposing counsel presented every witness possible and was allowed to base the questioning on matters that were, in some instances, irrelevant. When reviewing websites that post comments by parents who have "experienced" a Due Process Hearing, one main thread seems to be that the process was in some cases too lengthy, therefore generating an opinion that the process was intentionally allowed to be drawn out. The eventual result was having the parents "call it quits" because of the stress and monetary burden the process entails.

If the attorneys representing their respective clients were give strict guidelines that are enforced diligently by the HO, the process could be completed in a more reasonable time frame for everyone involved.

Food for thought!

Patricia

sheri

I am the first parent to ever appeal a due process decision to federal court in my state. I did not have an attorney the first time around. As we prepare this case, it floored me to realize that during the proceeding (the issue was appropriateness of the IEP as well as implementation, plus manifestation determination decision) the hearing officer was never given the evaluation as evidence, and when it emerged during testimony it was not in evidence, she did not insist it be submitted. I'd be interested to hear reactions to the idea of a due process hearing on whether the IEP is appropriate where the hearing officer not only is not provided the evaluation, but doesn't require it to be submitted once she realizes it.

Jean States

Laura Lewis, I hope that you do not sign any IEP that you do not agree with. I have a child with Asperger Syndrome, as well as being in Grad school for my LBS 1. Try to find an advocate to sit in on meetings with you. Hang in there, and hold their feet to the fire! My son is doing well as a freshman in high school. We have been fairly lucky in our school district, but even here we have to fight sometimes. Hang in there and get what your child needs.

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