If you are battling with your child’s school over some aspect of your child’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), you need a lawyer’s help.
Okay, you may not “need” a lawyer, but you are far better off having one help you. The overwhelming majority of due process complaints are filed by parents after reaching an impasse with their child’s school over their child’s IEP. If you have reached an impasse with your child’s school, you need to understand three things right now:
- Time is of the essence.
- As the Petitioner, you have the burden of proof.
- You have about a 2.2% chance of succeeding if you represent yourself.
By statute, North Carolina allows only one year for you to file your complaint. That time begins running from the date you first know or should have known of the circumstances that form the basis of your complaint. If you fail to file your complaint within the allotted time, your complaint will be dismissed.
In Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49 (2005), the United States Supreme Court held that the party seeking relief in a special-education case has the burden of proof. When advocating to establish or revise an IEP, that means you, as the petitioner, have the responsibility of producing evidence that will persuade an Administrative Law Judge to find in your favor. Often, that means preparing expert witnesses to testify to your child’s disability and optimal remedial actions.
A 2016 empirical analysis of due process hearings (for which a written decision could be located) taking place between 2000-2012 noted outcomes when parents represented themselves. Only 1 of the 45 studied pro se parents succeeded on all claims. That means the other 44 lost.
If you’re facing a battle with your child’s school over his or her IEP, don’t fight it alone. Give us a call at King Law to schedule a time to speak with one of our attorneys. You can dial 888-748-5464 (KING) or complete a request for consultation form.
 Lisa Lukasik, Special-Education Litigation: An Empirical Analysis of North Carolina’s First Tier, 118 W. Va. L. Rev. 735, 774 (2016).