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Alert! What Does Decision in Schaffer v. Weast Mean to You?
What You Don't Know About IDEA 2004 CAN Hurt You!


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ISSN: 1538-3202

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U. S. Supreme Court Issue Decision in Schaffer v. Weast

What Does the Decision Mean to YOU?

Parental Rights as "Firepower to Match the Opposition"

What You Don't Know About IDEA 2004 CAN Hurt You!

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The U. S. Supreme Court issued their decision in Schaffer v. Weast on Monday, November 14.

The issue in Schaffer was whether, in a due process hearing about a disputed IEP, the parent must prove that the school’s IEP is not appropriate or the school district must prove that their IEP is appropriate.

Should the party that attacks the IEP have the burden of proving that the IEP is not appropriate? Or, should the party that prepared the IEP, and has greater expertise and resources, have the burden of proving that the IEP is appropriate?

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority in the 6-2 decision. Justices Breyer and Ginsberg dissented for very different reasons.

Justice O'Connor explained that the Court “granted certiorari … to resolve the following question:

"At an administrative hearing assessing the appropriateness of an IEP, which party bears the burden of persuasion?”

The last paragraph describes the limited nature of the decision:

"We hold no more than we must to resolve the case at hand: The burden of proof in an administrative hearing challenging an IEP is properly placed upon the party seeking relief. In this case, that party is Brian, as represented by his parents. But the rule applies with equal effect to school districts: If they seek to challenge an IEP, they will in turn bear the burden of persuasion before an ALJ." Read decision.


What Does the Decision in Schaffer v. Weast Mean to YOU?

As Pete Wright explains in What Does the Decision in Schaffer v. Weast Mean to You, the implications of the decision will depend on where you live.

Some states already operate under the rule that the moving party has the burden of proof. In other states, the school district has the burden of proof. In these states, the decision should have no significant impact.

If your state did not have a pre-existing state rule or regulation that assigned the burden of proof to the school district, the burden will be on the moving party. The article includes a table that describes the impact by state.

Parent's Rights and Protections as "Firepower to Match the Opposition"

The decision focuses on parental rights and safeguards, especially Prior Written Notice and changes in the reauthorized IDEA 2004.

In What Does the Decision in Schaffer v. Weast Mean to You? Pete also describes due process hearings in states where the burden is on the moving party (usually the parent) and in states where the burden is on the school district.

Pete explains the single most important thing you must do to prevail in a due process hearing ... regardless of who has the burden of proof.

What Does the Decision in Schaffer v. Weast Mean to You? by Pete Wright is also available as a printer-friendly pdf document at http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/schaffer.impact.pwright.pdf

For background information about the case, decisions, pleadings, amicus briefs and news,
please go to the Schaffer v. Weast page at http://www.wrightslaw.com/news/05/schaffer.weast.htm


What You Don't Know About IDEA 2004 CAN Hurt You!

Are you confused about changes in IDEA 2004? You aren't alone!

In response to your requests for IDEA 2004 training, we developed
IDEA 2004: What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You!


IDEA 2004: What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You
is a one-day, six hour Wrightslaw program that focuses on changes in IDEA 2004. Sample agenda

You will learn about:
  • new requirements for evaluations, reevaluations, parental consent
  • new requirements for IEPs, IEP teams, IEP meetings
  • eligibility requirements for students with specific learning disabilities
  • accommodations on high stakes tests, accommodations guidelines, alternate assessments
  • new rules about discipline and manifestation reviews
  • new procedural requirements and timelines, including the “Due Process Complaint Notice” and “Resolution (IEP) Session”
  • implications of the Schaffer v. Weast decision
Presenters are are Wayne Steedman, Esq. or Peter Wright, Esq.

Learn about IDEA 2004: What You Don't Know CAN Hurt You. Learn about other Wrightslaw Training Programs.

Check the schedule to see if we are coming to your area.

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Contact Info

Pete and Pam Wright
Wrightslaw & The Special Ed Advocate
P. O. Box 1008
Deltaville, VA 23043
Website: http://www.wrightslaw.com
Email: newsletter@wrightslaw.com


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