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11/14/2019 03:58 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20190&cosponId=28298
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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 8, 2019 10:25 AM
From: Representative Thomas P. Murt
To: All House members
Subject: Burden of Proof for Special Education Students (Prior HB 850)
 
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation that places the burden of proof on school districts, rather than a party seeking relief, in special education hearings. This is necessary because school districts are better able to meet that burden than are the parents of children with disabilities.

For many years, the rule established by the U.S. Third Circuit Court, with jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, established that the burden of proof in hearings to determine whether school districts are providing children with disabilities the special education that they need in the least restrictive environment was placed on the school district. However, in 2005 the United States Supreme Court decided Schaeffer vs. Weast. Schaeffer held that, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, the burden of proof is on the party seeking relief—usually the parents. The court expressly did not invalidate state laws that placed the burden on the school district. So, if there is no state law or regulation that explicitly places the burden on the school district, the burden falls on the family. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania has no such statute or regulation in effect.

Currently, 11 states have passed laws and/or regulations that have changed the burden of proof to the school district. With this legislation, Pennsylvania would join these states that protect the interests of children and families. I hope that you will join me in cosponsoring this legislation.

Previous Cosponsors: TRUITT, THOMAS, BARRAR, DRISCOLL, D. MILLER, WARD, McGINNIS, V. BROWN, DEAN and MURT



Introduced as HB845