Monday, March 17, 2014

Zirkel Finds Special Education Claims and Lawsuits on Downward Trend Since 2005

Perry Zirkel is publishing a follow-up to her and Karen Gischlar's prior longitudinal study of IDEA administrative filings and court adjudications.  The prior study "found a steady increase in the volume of decisions during the period 1991 to 1996, followed by a 'relatively high, albeit uneven, plateau' from 1997 to 2005."  In the six year period following this prior study, the new study found a "clearly downward longitudinal trend for adjudicated [due process hearings] . . . , ending at a seemingly relatively stable level less than half that of the start of the period."

The study also attempts to identify the cause of this shift, positing that "the reduction would seem to be attributable to the nationally systemic emphases 1) initiated in the 2004 amendments and 2006 regulations of the IDEA, including extending the option of mediation to the period before filing for a [due process hearing] and—more notably—adding the innovation of a resolution session as a prerequisite to the DPH; and 2) supplemented by the continuing alternative dispute resolution (ADR) activities of the OSEP-funded National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education, such as IEP facilitation."  Zirkel, however, reasons that neither of those explanations are a primary cause because the number of filings declined much less than adjudications, and the declines were largely isolated to just a few jurisdictions, rather than nationally.

The full paper is here Download Zirkel DPH Trends.

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