The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”), the state’s administrative body that handles special education cases, has recently issued Standing Orders to address the challenges presented by COVID-19. In order to comply with federal and state mandates requiring that special education timelines be maintained during this global pandemic, the BSEA has ordered that it will continue to hold resolution proceedings (which include Due Process Hearings). In light of the state’s closure and re-opening plans, these resolution proceedings shall be done remotely or virtually and not in-person until further notice. Any requests for a change in date of the resolution proceedings, location of the proceedings, and/or mediums from which to conduct these proceedings must be made to the individual Hearing Officer assigned to the case.
The BSEA’s new Standing Orders also allow for Hearing Officers and Mediators to accept submissions of correspondence or documents through email, in addition to paper (such as fax or mail), so long as all parties are copied on the electronic correspondence. Hearing Requests cannot be submitted via email and must still be submitted via mail, fax, or hand-delivery.
COVID-19 has had an adverse impact on many parts of our lives, and it has also disrupted administrative proceedings for special education cases in Massachusetts, which in the past were exclusively conducted in-person. These new Standing Orders provide a necessary and welcome alternative to in-person resolution proceedings during this time. The BSEA’s Standing Orders can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/bureau-of-special-education-appeals.
Special Education Today is a publication of the Special Education & Disability Rights practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.
Each quarter, KC&S attorneys provide commentary on BSEA decisions and rulings. Available now are the commentaries for the first quarter of 2019 (January – March), written by Melanie Jarboe, and the second quarter of 2019 (April – June), written by Alicia Warren. Continue reading
The 4th Quarter 2018 BSEA Commentaries are now available on our website. The districts “ran the table” in the 5 placement decisions this quarter, each time establishing that the program the district proposed provided FAPE. Families and their attorneys and advocates can take solace in the fact that the hearing officers found the programs appropriate in each case only after it was demonstrated that the student was making significant, specific and demonstrable progress in the district’s placement and that the district incorporated recommendations from private evaluators. Continue reading
You won’t want to miss our commentary on the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”) decisions and rulings for the third quarter of 2018, written by KCS attorneys Eileen Hagerty and Alicia Warren for the Massachusetts Special Education Reporter. The commentary is available on our website. It offers summaries of recent cases, discussion of trends, and practical pointers for parents and practitioners. Continue reading
In a posting in July 2017, we celebrated a BSEA ruling that we hoped signaled the BSEA’s recognition of the importance of non-lawyer parent consultants as a resource to help parents – especially those without the means to engage attorneys – understand and make informed decisions in their advocacy for their children. As we said in that post:
Don’t miss our commentary on the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”) decisions and rulings for the third quarter of 2017, written by KCS attorneys Eileen Hagerty and Alicia Warren for the Massachusetts Special Education Reporter. The commentary, available on our website, offers summaries of recent cases and discussion of trends, along with useful tips for parents and practitioners. Continue reading
In a Ruling in the matter of In Re: Dorian issued on July 20, 2017, BSEA Hearing Officer Amy Reichbach held that the communications and materials of non-lawyer special education advocates are subject to the protections of the work product doctrine. The hearing officer reasoned that such protection is necessary in order to minimize the potential chilling effect that discovery of such information would have on parents’ and their consultants’ ability to communicate freely when special education litigation is anticipated. The hearing officer’s analysis vindicates arguments that parent attorneys and advocates have advanced for some time now (see, e.g., our posting on the subject in June 2015). We hope and trust that her reasoning will be adopted by her colleagues at the BSEA. Continue reading
Bill Crane has just posted an excellent article on the website for Mass Advocates for Children (“MAC”), analyzing and commenting on the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Endrew F. decision on the required standard for services and placements under IDEA. Continue reading
Our commentary on the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”) decisions and rulings for the third quarter of 2016, written by KCS attorneys Eileen Hagerty and Alicia Parmentier for the Massachusetts Special Education Reporter, is now available on our website. The commentary offers summaries of recent cases, along with useful tips for parents and practitioners. Continue reading
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. Continue reading