If you have the patience to click on each individual numerical link on the State Department of Education website under Special Education Due Process Hearing Decisions, you too may be able to discern the following statistics from the 2007 hearing decisions. These numbers are based on only those cases filed in 2007 that were also decided in 2007; it will not include those that were filed in 2006 and decided in 2007, or those filed in 2007 and decided in 2008. None of the 2008 decisions have been posted yet.
Number of cases filed and withdrawn or dismissed due to settlement: 154
Number of cases filed by parents and dismissed on motion from the board: 6
Number of cases decided “on the merits”: 15
Of the cases decided “on the merits”, number decided in favor of boards: 9
Of the cases decided “on the merits”, number decided in favor of boards where the parent was not represented by counsel (“uncontested cases”): 5
Remaining decisions in favor of boards in “contested cases”: 4
Of the cases decided “on the merits”, number decided in favor of parents: 4
Split decisions (part of ruling in favor of board, part in favor of parent): 2
Continuing on this theme, here is the breakdown of hearing decisions by hearing officer from this same group of hearings. This includes only the decisions “on the merits” filed and decided in 2007 where both parties were represented by counsel (so-called “contested cases”):
Christine Spak: 2 decisions; parents prevailed in both.
Mary Elizabeth Oppenheim: 3 decisions; parents prevailed in 2, board prevailed in 1
Patricia M. Strong: 4 decisions; 1 split decision, board prevailed in 3
Decisions “on the merits” were also issued by Scott Myers, Mary Gelfman, and Justino Rosado during this period of time, but all were issued in “uncontested” cases where the parent was not represented by counsel. Mary Elizabeth Oppenheim and Patricia Strong also filed decisions in uncontested cases. In each uncontested case, the board either prevailed or (in one case) there was a split decision with some relief ordered to the parent.
Of the 6 cases dismissed on motion by the board, 4 were filed by pro se parents, one case was filed by a non-education attorney, and one case was dismissed and then re-filed by the proper party.
Invitation to Comment: Why do you think so many cases are settled rather than litigated? Please keep comments general rather than personalizing them to a particular attorney or hearing officer, and we’ll post the ones we can.