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Reverse Due Process: When the School Sues the Parent

by Wrightslaw

If a parent won’t sign an IEP, does the school system have the right and ability to sue the parent on behalf of the student? In the eyes of the system, the student would not be receiving FAPE.

Does the judge ever go against the wishes of a parent?

Yes, this does happen. It’s often called “reverse due process.” I don’t know how often it happens, but it is not unusual.

Reverse due process hearings are a defensive legal strategy used by school districts.

The motivation that drives reverse due process hearings is the school’s fear that the parents will prevail on a claim that the school’s IEP did not provide FAPE.

If a parent does not agree with the IEP because they believe it is not appropriate, the school may request a due process hearing against the parent. The school will ask the Hearing Officer or Administrative Law Judge to rule that the proposed IEP is appropriate.

If the HO rules that the school’s IEP is appropriate, the parent is unlikely to prevail on a claim that the IEP was not appropriate.

BUT, IDEA 2004 changed the rules for initial IEPs. Parents may refuse to consent to the “initial IEP” without any penalty or fear that they will be sued by the school.

A few months ago, the USDOE proposed to amend a regulation so parents could withdraw/revoke consent for their child’s placement in special ed at any time. If this reg is adopted, the school district would not use due process or forced mediation in response to the parents withdrawal of the child.

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32 Comments on "Reverse Due Process: When the School Sues the Parent"


Anyone who would be willing to discuss or help me as my son’s school (who was found non compliant by the state for my complaint) has filed a reverse due process in retaliation. I am new to this. Any help would be great. Thanks.


I have a first grade daughter diagnosed with autism. She had been receiving special ed services per an IEP. At her first ever triennial IEP/psyco ed assessment, the district recommends complete removal from spec ed. they assessed in all areas of suspected disability, but their findings were wildly inconsistent with what I see as a parent. IE she was in mainstream class receiving pull out services for speech and language. Her triennial assessment now finds she is in the “very superior” range, at the 99th percentile, even when compared to “neuro-typical” peers nationally. To me this is preposterous. I requested an IEE at the IEP (Oct 9) and was immediately told “no.” The district has now filed reverse due process. (Dec 10) to show they assessed all areas of disability. I suspect their “findings” are only a “set up” for dismissal.


I was sued by the district and now the district doesn’t want to give my son, who is going to be 18 in July, the Speech and Language Therapy he needs. My son was transfer to a APS and the APS left my son behind and did not write any goals for him in Speech and Language. He has a Speech and Language Impairment Disability and was denied a FAPE. He also has an Intellectual Disability and he did not have any age appropriate Literature. The school denied him of any Assistive Technology. His home school who is paying for the services do not want to pay for his Speech and Language and any other services. Because they know that I cannot afford a lawyer, they are taking advantage of the situation. I have called all over the place this includes the Senator around my area, the Governor’s office and many other places and the law is a joke.


Can an IEP “team” recommend a self-contained discipline based middle school because they “feel” it’s the most appropriate placement for the student for middle school (transitioning from 5th-6th) & tell parent she has to file due process if she disagrees? I thought she could reject placement and the district would have to sue if they insist on that placement? This was not an alternative placement decision.


Amanda, you have choices. The issue of your son being hit is also a child abuse complaint through your local child welfare agency.
There are many unknowns here and you don’t have to share any more information. What does your child want to do? Have you visited the school they are suggesting? Have your son visit both schools and work the school attorney so your son’s needs can get met. This is an unfortunate situation. I seems that the teacher is being protected and the school district is being proactive in a case you file a child abuse complaint and a state complaint. They are strategically getting a step ahead of you. This is an unfortunate situation but you do have choices. I would use the school’s lawyer to my advantage. Know your son’s procedural rights.