Each quarter, attorneys from KC&S Special Education & Disability Law practice group write commentary on rulings and decisions from the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”). The commentaries are published in the Massachusetts Special Education Reporter (“MSER”) and on our website. Bob Crabtree’s commentary on decisions and rulings from the first quarter of 2015 is up on the KC&S website.
Among the BSEA rulings issued in the first quarter were several that involved the very sensitive matter of access by third parties to student information in the course of BSEA litigation. In one case the hearing officer refused to order parents to consent to a psychiatric facility’s release of their child’s medical information. In another ruling a district was denied an order for “substituted consent” to allow it to send the student’s records to possible alternative placements, but was allowed to send records in redacted form. In yet another ruling the hearing officer refused a district’s request to block access for the parents’ attorney and expert witnesses to redacted records of peers with whom the district proposed to place a student, while imposing strict conditions on the handling of such records. And in still another ruling, a district was taken to task for serving document subpoenas on persons with no involvement in the case at hand and with nothing remotely relevant to contribute to the hearing officer’s consideration of the issues. In the midst of our comments, we took the opportunity to argue that most documents generated by lay advocates should be protected against school district subpoenas as “work product.”