A great example of mild cross-examination

When parents of students bring a report to the school that comes from an outside source, the school should respond with four steps. We get a lot of reports from doctors, reading specialists, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, psychologists and others. Regardless of the source, the response should include these four elements. 

1. Say Thank You!  Parents are helping the school when they bring us information that might help us serve the student better. So say thanks.

2. Ask the parent to sign a FERPA consent form to enable you to contact the person who wrote the report and get some further information.  You can’t have a conversation like that without disclosing confidential information about the student. You need parent consent, in writing, to do that. So ask.

3. When you contact the person who wrote the report, engage in mild cross-examination.  You don’t need to go to law school to learn how to do this.  Marriage is a great training ground.  Having adolescent children is even better. So most of you already know how to engage in mild Cross-X. 

4. Take the report, along with the results of your cross examination to the relevant group for further consideration. This might be the ARD committee, the 504 team, or an RtI team. 

I came across a Circuit Court decision recently that provides an excellent example of why “mild cross-examination” is called for.   It was a fight over funding of an IEE—an Independent Educational Evaluation.  The court ruled that the school was not required to pay for the IEE, and  noted that the hearing panel gave little weight to the independent report. Here’s why: 

…[the person who wrote the IEE] had neither met nor observed Student, was not aware of Student’s programs in her current placement, and was not familiar with the most recent data collected for Student.

How did the court come to that conclusion?  Somebody engaged in mild Cross-X. 

The case is A.H. v. Colonial School District, decided by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in an unpublished decision on July 10, 2019.  We found it at 74 IDELR 219. 


Tomorrow: Kid lives here, goes to private school in another district. Who is responsible?