September 2007

Available in PDF Format for Printing

TO:
District Superintendents
 
Superintendent of Schools
 
Presidents of Boards of Education
 
Superintendents of State-Operated and State-Supported Schools
  Executive Directors of Approved Private Schools
 
New York City Board of Education
 
Organizations, Parents and Individuals Concerned with Special Education
 
Commissioner's Advisory Panel for Special Education Services
 
SETRC Project Directors and Professional Development Specialists
  Regional School Support Centers
  Impartial Hearing Officers
  Mediators
  Other State Agencies
FROM: Rebecca H. Cort  Signature of Rebecca H. Cort
SUBJECT: Burden of Proof for an Appeal in an Impartial Due Process Hearing

Chapter 583 of the Laws of 2007 (attached) was enacted to provide that the burden of proof in an impartial due process hearing pursuant to §4404(1) of Education Law to challenge the recommendation of a Committee on Special Education (CSE) or Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), or otherwise challenge actions or omissions relating to the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability, is generally placed on the school district (or State agency) providing special education to the student.  The law creates an exception for impartial hearings in which the parent seeks tuition reimbursement for a unilateral placement in a private school.  Chapter 583 takes effect 60 days from August 15, 2007.
           
To ensure dissemination to appropriate individuals within a school district, I ask Superintendents to please share this memorandum with other individuals such as Building Principals, Directors of Special Education, School Psychologists, CSE and CPSE Chairpersons, Guidance Counselors and Directors of Pupil Personnel. Questions regarding this memorandum may be directed to the Special Education Policy Unit at 518-473-2878.

Attachment


 
                                  CHAPTER 583
AN  ACT  to  amend the education law, in relation to the burden of proof
     for appeal procedures for children with handicapping conditions
 
       Became a law August 15, 2007, with the approval of the Governor.
            Passed by a majority vote, three-fifths being present.
 
     The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
   bly, do enact as follows:
 
     Section  1. Paragraph c of subdivision 1 of section 4404 of the educa-
   tion law, as amended by chapter 352 of the laws of 2005, is  amended  to
   read as follows:
     c.  Individuals so appointed by a board of education or a state agency
   shall be selected from a list of available  impartial  hearing  officers
   who  have  successfully  completed an impartial hearing officer training
   program conducted by the department according to  a  rotation  selection
   process  prescribed  in  regulations  of the commissioner; except that a
   city school district of a city having a  population  of  more  than  one
   million  inhabitants shall be exempt from such regulations to the extent
   it maintains its rotational selection process in effect  prior  to  July
   first, nineteen hundred ninety-three. A record of proceedings before the
   impartial  hearing officer shall be maintained and made available to the
   parties, and the hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the regu-
   lations of the commissioner.  The board of education or trustees of  the
   school  district or the state agency responsible for providing education
   to students with disabilities shall have the burden of proof,  including
   the burden of persuasion and burden of production, in any such impartial
   hearing,  except  that  a  parent or person in parental relation seeking
   tuition reimbursement for a unilateral parental placement shall have the
   burden of persuasion and burden of production on the appropriateness  of
   such  placement.  The decision of the impartial hearing officer shall be
   binding upon both parties unless appealed to the state  review  officer.
   The  commissioner  shall  establish  a department training program which
   shall be completed to the satisfaction of the commissioner as  a  condi-
   tion  of certification. Impartial hearing officers shall have the quali-
   fications specified  in  subsection  (f)  of  section  fourteen  hundred
   fifteen  of  title  twenty  of  the United States code, the implementing
   federal regulations and the regulations of the commissioner. The commis-
   sioner  shall  promulgate  regulations  to  ensure  that  no  individual
   employed  by  a school district, school or program serving students with
   disabilities placed by a school district committee on special  education
   acts  as an impartial hearing officer and that no individual employed by
   such schools or programs serves as an impartial hearing officer for  two
   years  following  the  termination  of such employment. The commissioner
   shall promulgate regulations establishing procedures for the  suspension
   or revocation of impartial hearing officer certification for good cause.
   The  commissioner  shall establish maximum rates for the compensation of
   impartial hearing officers subject to the approval of  the  director  of
   the division of the budget.
     § 2. Subdivision 1 of section 4404 of the education law, as amended by
   chapter 311 of the laws of 1999, is amended to read as follows:
     1.  If the recommendation of the committee on special education is not
   acceptable to the  parent  or  person  in  parental  relationship  of  a
   student,  or if the committee or board of education or trustees fails to
   make or effectuate such a recommendation within such periods of time  as
   may  be  required  by  regulations  of the commissioner, such parents or
   persons in parental relationship shall notify the board of education  of
   this  situation and the board shall appoint an impartial hearing officer
   to hear the appeal and make a determination within such period  of  time
   as  the  commissioner  by  regulation shall determine, provided that the
   board of education or trustees shall  offer  the  parent  or  person  in
   parental  relationship  the  option  of  mediation  pursuant  to section
   forty-four hundred four-a of this article as an alternative to an impar-
   tial hearing. Individuals so appointed by a board of education shall  be
   selected from a list of available hearing officers who have successfully
   completed a hearing officer training program conducted by the department
   according  to  a rotation selection process prescribed in regulations of
   the commissioner; except that a city school district of a city having  a
   population  of  more  than  one million inhabitants shall be exempt from
   such regulations to the extent it  maintains  its  rotational  selection
   process  in effect prior to July first, nineteen hundred ninety-three. A
   record of proceedings before the hearing officer shall be maintained and
   made available to the parties.  The board of education  or  trustees  of
   the school district or the state agency responsible for providing educa-
   tion  to  students  with  disabilities  shall  have the burden of proof,
   including the burden of persuasion and burden of production, in any such
   impartial hearing, except that a parent or person in  parental  relation
   seeking  tuition reimbursement for a unilateral parental placement shall
   have the burden of persuasion and burden of production on the  appropri-
   ateness  of such placement. The decision of the hearing officer shall be
   binding upon both parties unless appealed to the state  review  officer.
   The  commissioner  shall  establish  a department training program which
   shall be completed to the satisfaction of the commissioner as  a  condi-
   tion  of  certification.  The commissioner shall develop and implement a
   plan to ensure that no individual employed by a school district,  school
   or  program  serving  students  with  disabilities  placed  by  a school
   district committee on special education acts  as  an  impartial  hearing
   officer  and  that  no  individual  employed by such schools or programs
   serves as an impartial hearing  officer  for  two  years  following  the
   termination  of such employment. Such plan shall be fully implemented no
   later than July first, nineteen  hundred  ninety-six.  The  commissioner
   shall  promulgate regulations establishing procedures for the suspension
   or revocation of impartial hearing officer certification for good cause.
   The commissioner shall establish maximum rates for the  compensation  of
   impartial  hearing  officers  subject to the approval of the director of
   the division of the budget.  The  commissioner  shall  promulgate  regu-
   lations  establishing procedures and timelines for expedited hearings in
   cases involving: (a) review of a decision that a student with a disabil-
   ity's behavior was not a manifestation of such student's disability,  or
   (b) review of an interim alternative educational setting or other place-
   ment  to  the extent required under federal law, or (c) a request by the
   school district for a determination that maintaining the current  educa-
   tional  placement  of  the  student is substantially likely to result in
   injury to the student or to others.
 
     § 3. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth  day  after  it  shall
   have  become a law and shall apply to impartial hearings commenced on or
   after such effective date; provided, however,  that  the  amendments  to
   paragraph  c  of subdivision 1 of section 4404 of the education law made
   by section one of this act shall be subject to the expiration and rever-
   sion  of  such  subdivision pursuant to section 22 of chapter 352 of the
   laws of 2005, as amended, when upon such date the provisions of  section
   two of this act shall take effect.
 
   The Legislature of the STATE OF NEW YORK ss:
     Pursuant  to  the authority vested in us by section 70-b of the Public
   Officers Law, we hereby jointly certify that  this  slip  copy  of  this
   session law was printed under our direction and, in accordance with such
   section, is entitled to be read into evidence.
 
      JOSEPH L. BRUNO                                     SHELDON SILVER
   Temporary President of the Senate                Speaker of the Assembly