Thursday, May 14, 2015

COPAA Files Brief in 5th Circuit: IEE is a Primary Right of IDEA

COPAA filed an amicus brief in the 5th Circuit in the case of Seth B. v. Orleans Parish School Board.  Advocacy Center attorneys, Sara Hall Voight and Debra Weinberg, as well as Ron Lospennato, represent the Plaintiffs/Appellants in the case.  The issue is one of primary importance to COPAA members: the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).  The primary rights of parents and children under IDEA start in the evaluation process with a right to an IEE to supplement the evaluations conducted by the public agency. Parents and their children require a clear and fair access to an established dispute resolution mechanism when the school agency declines to allow the publicly funded IEE or to pay for it once it is completed, in procedures which mandate that the IEE be funded unless the district affirmatively seeks a hearing to prove the adequacy of its evaluation “without unnecessary delay.”  This explicit allocation of the burden of bringing a suit and the burden of proof lies with the district denying funding.  Significantly, this IEE clarification was made in 1997-1999 based on a concern that forcing parents to seek due process for reimbursement delayed the IEE process and interfered with the IEE right.   Jon Zimring and Selene Almazan authored the brief for COPAA.  The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) also submitted a brief in this case on behalf of NDRN, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Assocation of the Deaf.  Ellen Saideman and Constance Wannamaker, COPAA members, wrote the brief for NDRN and amici.  

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