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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: August 5, 2021 09:46 AM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Study Special Education Lawsuits in the Commonwealth
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation (HR 652) from last Session directing the Joint State Government Commission to study special education lawsuits in our Commonwealth.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides that each student with a disability is entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. In order to ensure that every student receives a free and appropriate education, IDEA requires each state to establish a system of due process safeguards that are accessible to every family of a student with a disability.

In order to fulfill the requirements of IDEA, Pennsylvania established the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR). Through mediation and due process hearings, ODR provides the necessary resources for parents and education agencies to resolve education disputes for students with disabilities. Due process hearings conducted by ODR are similar to trials, with an ODR Hearing Officer presiding and acting as a judge. Witnesses are questioned and cross-examined, and evidence is admitted into the record for the Hearing Officer’s consideration. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Officer will issue a written decision, which is a legally enforceable document setting forth the legal obligations of both parties. Either party may then appeal the Hearing Officer’s decision to state or federal court.

My proposed resolution will direct the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a study examining the Office for Dispute Resolution in order to provide members of the General Assembly with valuable information to help us better understand special education lawsuits in our Commonwealth.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this resolution.  

Prior cosponsors:

Introduced as HR138