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INFORMATIONAL LETTER 20

POLICY CODE: IHBA

 

TO:                   Superintendents of Schools; Special Education Directors; CDS Site Directors; Maine Parent Federation; Disability Rights Center; Special Education Law Attorneys

FROM:             Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner of Education

DATE:              August 24, 2005

RE:                   Restrictions on Expedited Hearing

Per the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004 §615(k)(3)(B) and §615(k)(4)(A) & (B) regarding expedited hearings,

(k)(3)(B)   AUTHORITY OF HEARING OFFICER –

(i) IN GENERAL – If a parent of a child with a disability disagrees with a decision as described in subparagraph (a), the hearing officer may determine whether the decision regarding such action was appropriate.

(ii) CHANGE OF PLACEMENT ORDER – A hearing officer under this section may order a change in placement of a child with a disability to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days if the hearing officer determines that maintaining the current placement of such child is substantially likely to result in injury to the child or to others.

(k)(4)(A)     PLACEMENT DURING APPEALS – When a parent requests a hearing regarding a disciplinary procedure described in paragraph (1)(B) or challenges the interim alternative educational setting or manifestation determination-

(A) the child shall remain in the interim alternative educational setting pending the decision of the hearing officer or until the expiration of the time period provided for in paragraph (1)(B), whichever occurs first, unless the parent and the State or local educational agency agree otherwise;

(B) the State or local educational agency shall arrange for an expedited hearing, which shall occur within 20 school days of the date the hearing is requested.

In response to this statute, the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) has determined that the Maine regulation is in conflict with the federal statute and we must follow the federal statute in the restriction of the utilization of expedited hearings to matters regarding disciplinary action toward students who have been identified as students with disabilities or are in the special education referral process. In past years, the MDOE has accepted requests for expedited hearings from parents and legal guardians about a variety of time-sensitive issues, including extended school year (ESY) services. This policy terminated as of July 1, 2005, the effective date of the new statute.

Furthermore, since expedited hearings may only be held during a school year (the timeframe refers only to “school days”), any requests for expedited hearings that are received during the summer will be scheduled for dates when school days may be calculated in the fall.

If a recipient of this memorandum has questions about the content of this memo, please contact the Due Process Office by e-mail at patricia.neumeyer@maine.gov or by phone at 624-6644.