Special Education

Overview of the Annual Performance Report Development:

See Overview of the Development of the Annual Performance Report (APR) in the Introduction section, page 1.

Monitoring Priority: FAPE in the LRE

Indicator 17:  Percent of adjudicated due process hearing requests that were fully adjudicated within the 45-day timeline or a timeline that is properly extended by the hearing officer at the request of either party or in the case of an expedited hearing, within the required timelines.
(20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B))

Measurement:

Percent = [(3.2(a) + 3.2(b)) divided by 3.2] times 100.  (This formula references data contained in the rows of the table below.)

Data Source:

New York State (NYS) will use data collected and reported to the United States Education Department annually in the 618 report on Table 7 of Information Collection 1820-0677 (Report of Dispute Resolution Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).

Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) Measurable and Rigorous Target
FFY 2010
(2010-11 school year)
100 percent of impartial hearing decisions will be rendered within regulatory timelines.

Actual Target Data for FFY 2010:

84.25 percent of impartial hearing requests were fully adjudicated within the 45-day timeline (or 30-day timeline for preschool students), or a timeline was properly extended by the impartial hearing officer (IHO) at the request of either party.

7/1/2010 - 6/30/2011
SECTION C: Hearing Requests
(3)  Hearing requests total 6,147
(3.2) Hearings (fully adjudicated) 381
(a)  Decisions within timeline 81
(b)  Decisions within extended timeline 240
(3.3) Resolved without a hearing 4,578
Percent = 81[3.2(a)] + 240[3.2(b)] divided by 381[3.2] = .8425 x 100 = 84.25%.

Discussion of Improvement Activities Completed and Explanation of Progress or Slippage that occurred for FFY 2010:

Explanation of Progress or Slippage

The State demonstrated progress for this indicator.  The percentage of adjudicated hearings completed in a timely manner improved slightly, from 84 percent in FFY 2009 to 84.25 percent in FFY 2010.

In FFY 2010, there was an increase in the number of impartial hearings requested, from 6,078 in FFY 2009 to 6,147 in 2010.  Most of these requests were from New York City (NYC).  To ensure that there were sufficient numbers of IHOs available to hear cases in a timely manner, the State certified 32 additional IHOs specifically to hear NYC cases.

There has been a documented decrease in the number of IHOs with five or more late decisions (in 2007, 13 IHOs had five or more late decisions; in FFY 2010, no IHOs had five or more late decisions).  In FFY 2009, 425 cases were fully adjudicated, and 70 of these decisions were not timely; in FFY 2010, there were 381 cases fully adjudicated, and 60 decisions were not timely.  In FFY 2009, there were 14 cases where decisions were rendered more than two weeks late.  In FFY 2010, this number decreased to nine cases.  So while not reflected in the overall percentage, fewer cases are rendered late than in the prior year.

Improvement Activities Completed in FFY 2010:

  • Staff from the Office of Special Education accessed federal technical assistance to further inform its activities to improve due process timelines on the following occasions:
    • Participation in the Northeast Regional Resource Center (NERCC) Legal and Regulatory Workgroup.
    • Staff from the Office of Special Education participated in two webinars sponsored by the National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) which focused on strategies to resolve disagreements related to special education.
  • Training was provided to NYS IHOs by staff from NERCC (Pamela Kraynak).
  • To ensure the availability of sufficient numbers of IHOs, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) certified 32 new IHOs in July 2010.
  • Beginning in 2010, the State required each NYS-certified IHO to attend 12 hours of annual update training sessions, an increase over the previous six hours required every two years.  Annual update training was provided to all NYS-certified IHOs specifically on managing the timelines in an impartial hearing.
  • A request for proposals was issued in 2010, and in June of 2011, NYSED entered into a five-year contract with Special Education Solutions, L.L.C. to plan, develop, and conduct annual update training for currently certified IHOs and provide training to new IHO candidates in year four of the contract; host a website containing materials for IHOs and maintain a listserv in order to provide ongoing technical support to IHOs; assist NYSED in periodically updating technical assistance materials for IHOs; and investigate complaints alleging the misconduct or challenging the competence of an IHO.  Through this contract, nationally recognized experts in the field of special education impartial hearings will be available to provide training and technical assistance to NYC IHOs on topics including the timely management of the impartial hearing process.
  • Office of Special Education provided real-time monitoring of the timeliness of all impartial hearing decisions through its Impartial Hearing Reporting System (IHRS).  Late notice reminders were issued to IHOs when decisions had not been issued by the regulatory compliance date.  The Impartial Hearing Reporting System (IHRS) Help file, available to IHOs on the IHRS website, was expanded to include a technical assistance section for IHOs having difficulty using the IHRS tables designed to help IHOs monitor their cases.
  • NYSED initiated misconduct investigations of IHOs for those cases where decisions were late and/or where there were multiple extensions to a hearing to determine whether the IHO demonstrated misconduct or incompetence.
  • Written guidance was issued to IHOs regarding the record close date for all impartial hearings and the State’s regulatory requirement to render decisions no more than 14 days after the actual record close date when extensions have been properly granted.
  • Monthly phone conferences were conducted by the NYS Office of Special Education  IHRS Office, NYC Special Education Quality Assurance Regional Office and the NYC Impartial Hearing Office to address data collection issues, clarify State regulations, policies and procedures, and address other issues affecting timely decisions by NYC IHOs.
  • Monthly meetings were held between the Information Technology departments of the IHRS Office and the NYC Impartial Hearing Office to coordinate an automated transfer of information between the two impartial hearing recording systems.  This efficient transfer of information allows for better monitoring of cases and timelines.

Additional Information Required by the OSEP APR Response Table for this Indicator (if applicable):

Statement from the OSEP Response Table State’s Response
The State must review its improvement activities and revise them, if necessary, to ensure they will enable the State to provide data in the FFY 2010 APR, due February 1, 2012, demonstrating that the State is in compliance with the due process hearing timeline requirements in 34 CFR §300.515. The State has contracted with nationally recognized experts in the due process field to provide training and technical assistance to NYS IHOs on managing the impartial hearing process to ensure timely decisions and has increased the frequency of required training sessions.  Further, the State expanded its pool of IHOs to ensure sufficient numbers of IHOs are available to hear cases in a timely manner.   The State has also increased its actions to real-time monitor impartial hearing timelines and to review and, as appropriate, provide sanctions to IHOs who issue late decisions.  Further, the State has proposed regulations to address procedural issues often leading to untimely decisions.

Revisions, with Justification, to Proposed Targets / Improvement Activities / Timelines / Resources for FFY 2010 [If applicable]

The following revised improvement activities are added to ensure the timeliness of impartial hearing decisions.

  1. 2011 annual update training to NYS IHOs to be provided by national experts (Lyn Beekman, Deusdedi Merced and Perry Zirkel) on the following topics:
    • The 45 day timeline requirement to issue a final decision;
    • Tuition reimbursement; and
    • Pre-hearing techniques.

Timeline: By December 2011

  1. NYSED will revise and reissue written guidance on impartial hearing procedures.  Timeline: By December 2012.
  2. NYSED will revise its State regulations relating to impartial hearing procedures to address procedural issues that impact timely impartial hearing decisions. 
    Timeline: By June 2012
  3. NYSED will take action with regard to the certification of an IHO upon a finding that the IHO demonstrated misconduct or incompetence relating to improperly granted extensions and/or late decisions.

 

Last Updated: April 17, 2012