Counties Urge Caution in Change to Due Process Proceedings for Individualized Educational Programs

On February 8, 2023, Associate Policy Director Brianna January submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 294 – County Boards of Education – Due Process Proceedings for Children With Disabilities – Burden of Proof with amendments.

The Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee will consider the bill’s cross-file, SB 926, on March 15.

This bill would shift the burden of proof from plaintiffs to a county board of education in due process proceedings that initiate from a complaint regarding the provision of special education services. Counties acknowledge the challenges posed by the current system for dealing with these complaints, and appreciate that both families and school boards could benefit from its modernization. However, Maryland’s children would be best served if this daunting task were first considered by a task force of experts and relevant stakeholders charged with studying best practices and drafting recommendations.

From the MACo Testimony:

The current process to consider [cases involving special education complaints] is fraught with numerous challenges that pose significant financial, administrative, and labor-intensive obstacles for Maryland families and local school boards. Counties appreciate the intention of HB 294 to tackle the complex challenge of modernizing this system. However, counties fear that the bill is too ambitious and has not been subjected to the due diligence of key stakeholders, including counties. It is the strongly held belief of counties that the bill – and Maryland’s children – would benefit from the establishment of a task force to identify the challenges of the current system, study best practices in due process proceedings regarding special education services and K-12 programs for children with disabilities, and recommend policy reforms to modernize the process. Such a task force should include key stakeholders, including county governments.

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