I filed for Due Process August 26th of this year.
In the more than two months that followed, the posts to this site dropped off, as a result of 1) time and 2) issues with my eyes (another story for another day).
Thank you to those of you who noticed the article dry spell and emailed to ask how I was doing, if the articles would pick up again, and so on. Words don’t exist to describe how much these emails meant to me.
A due process hearing is an experience I could have done without, but I learned a tremendous amountâ€”especially about hearings held via a virtual platform. I learned, too, more than I ever thought I needed to know about the transcripts related to the hearing (more on this later).
In the coming weeks, I’ll share slices of the hearing, from due process filing to final decisionâ€”which in this hearing included the following:
- privacy breaches,
- technical “glitches”,
- an ADA complaint,
- denial of full access to the hearing,
- and denial of rights guaranteed under both federal and state regulations.
As always, my hope is that some of what I’ve learned along the way can 1) help other families and 2) help create positive change within an unbalanced, broken system.
This first article focuses on filing for Due Process, with a bit of personal background sprinkled throughout.
The short version is:
Due process covers two years from the date of your filing and the filing must contain:
(1) The name of the child;IDEA Sec. 300.507
(2) The address of the residence of the child;
(3) The name of the school the child is attending;
(4) In the case of a homeless child or youth (within the meaning of section 725(2) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)), available contact information for the child, and the name of the school the child is attending;
(5) A description of the nature of the problem of the child relating to the proposed or refused initiation or change, including facts relating to the problem; and
(6) A proposed resolution of the problem to the extent known and available to the party at the time.
The long version, which requires educating yourself beyond the above short version, includes reading the following Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations:
- Sec. 300.507: Filing a due process complaint
- Sec. 300.508: Due process complaint
- Sec. 300.509: Model Forms
You’ll want to check your state regulations, too. If you’re in Virginia, that means reading:
Consider this me filing for Due Process.
When you assign the hearing officer, please give me notice the same minute you give FCPS notice. The last time we went through this, FCPSâ€™ counsel was submitting subpoenas before I even knew a hearing officer had been assigned.
This is against Fairfax County Public Schools and related to my son XXX.
1) â€œJust Wordsâ€
Wilson, the publisher of â€œJust Wordsâ€, stated â€œJust Wordsâ€ is NOT for children with Dyslexia. Read Wilsonâ€™s article â€œWhen Itâ€™s NOT Dyslexia: Using Just Wordsâ€. See:
In his â€œFinal Decision and Orderâ€, Virginia Due Process Hearing Officer Richard M. Alvey stated the following:
â€œThe LEA has argued that a hearing officer should not dictate decisions of educational methodology. Barnett v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., 927 F 2d 146(4th Cir. 1991). I agree. I recognise that the LEA can use a blend of several interventions and even homemade strategies to address a student’s difficulties. From the evidence presented at the hearing, I have learned there are several competing methodologies that address learning disabilities associated with dyslexia. But it is clear to this Hearing Officer that JUST WORDS is not one of them.â€ See: https://specialeducationaction.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Just-Words-Due-Process-Decision.pdf
2) FCPSâ€™ proposal for XXX
For years, FCPS has been proposing â€œJust Wordsâ€ for XXX.
3) FCPS and consent
For years, FCPS staff have made comments about my not consenting to its proposal for â€œJust Wordsâ€, as if Iâ€™m at fault for saying no to a program that doesnâ€™t address the needs of a child with Dyslexia. When I didnâ€™t consent to â€œJust Wordsâ€ FCPS failed to propose a program that will address the needs of a child with Dyslexia.
I have years of audio tapes and emails and other documentation, with FCPS â€“ and specifically Angelina Prestipino â€“ speaking to how this program will address XXX’s needs.
5) What do I want?
I want reimbursement for all of the Lindamood Bell tutoring Iâ€™ve paid for.
I want FCPS to pay for XXX to receive private tutoring â€“ of my choice – between now and when he starts college, to address his needs.
VDOE: Youâ€™ve long known about FCPSâ€™ problems with identifying and addressing the needs of children with Dyslexia. You know this because I provided you the attached â€œHot Topicsâ€ documents years ago. You did nothing to change the problem. And nowâ€¦ Here we are. In case you donâ€™t remember, click on the tracked changes marks in the Word document and youâ€™ll see all the names of the kids, their lawyers, monies paid, medical issues, and so on â€“ as well as FCPS admitting problems with identification of Dyslexia and addressing Dyslexia.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
You’ll notice my filing doesn’t include an address or the name of the school my son attends.
VDOE knows me, my address, and the school my son attends, so I didn’t think to include these items. In addition, VDOE well knows the issues related to FCPS and my son.
Why did I send it to VDOE?
About two years ago, I filed for Due Process for the first time. I filed with Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)â€”and before I was made aware that a hearing officer had been assigned, I received notices about subpoenas being filed.
It was my first time going through the process and I thought I was being spammed. I didn’t know the individuals writing the emails or anything about subpoenas.
By the time I was made aware a hearing officer had been assigned, it was clear that FCPS had this information in advance, which provided it a jump start.
(Due to health issues and a tree taking out my yard and deck (stopping within inches of the house) at the same time, I pulled out of the hearing and it was dismissed without prejudice. In hindsight, it was the right decision, although it meant I lost two years that could have been addressed during due process. Between my health and the tree, it would have been a difficult road to travel.)
I remembered FCPS’ early jump, so I thought I could go to VDOE.
Sheila Grey of VDOE (firstname.lastname@example.org) emailed me with a cc to Lourrie Duddridge (email@example.com) of FCPS:
Our office acknowledges receipt of your due process request. As you specifically state, your request is against Fairfax County. The appointment of a hearing officer is the responsibility of the school division. We note that you have copied Ms. Lourrie Duddridge and she is copied on this response to you. You should be receiving information from Fairfax County regarding the appointment of the hearing officer and other relevant information for parents, per regulations, within five business days of the receipt of your request.
Lourrie confirmed receipt and said she sent my filing to Dawn Schaefer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jane Strong (email@example.com)
Dawn emailed me:
I have received your request for a due process hearing. I am in the process of obtaining a hearing officer and will send letters and information regarding this matter via email within the required five business days.
Not one them spoke a peep about the content of my filing.