A class action lawsuit filed Wednesday challenges Virginia’s implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia claims that when parents challenge school plans on how to educate their children, hearing officers rarely side with the parents, reports the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Federal law details early invention, special education, and other services that must be provided to eligible children and youth with disabilities to ensure they receive an appropriate education.
Parents who question services for their child can file a lawsuit and go to court, but the lawsuit says about two-thirds of hearing officers have never ruled in favor of the parents in the past 20 years. last years.
The lawsuit was filed by Trevor and Vivian Chaplick, parents of a Fairfax County Public Schools student and founders of Hear Our Voices Inc., a disability rights organization. He appoints Fairfax County School Board and Division Superintendent Michelle Reid, Virginia Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.
The Chaplicks wanted their son, who “has faced significant challenges in his life including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” and other disabilities, according to the suit, to be placed in a facility residential education, but the district rejected the idea that he needed to leave the division.
Despite a warning from a school system social worker that “they shouldn’t worry about (the case) because they’ll ‘lose,'” the Chaplicks proceeded with a due process hearing. Their son was placed in a residential school, but the school division is not paying the facility fee, according to his parents.
The Chaplicks began investigating the state Department of Education, which Trevor Chaplick said hires, certifies, trains and pays hearing officers each year, creating a temptation for officers to come out in favor schools. He wants the state to create an independent commission with no economic interest in hearing the results.
The plaintiffs seek a statement that the Hearing Officer system “deprives families of due process,” the complaint states. They also want the department declared non-compliant with federal law.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Education and a spokesperson for Fairfax County Schools did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.