The Sheesh-O-Meter

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The Dawg likes to look out for cases that score high on the Sheesh-O-Meter.  You know, cases that you read and sigh, “Sheesh.”  Sometimes the “sheesh” is directed at a school employee behaving badly. Last week we told you about the California case where a bus driver was accused of a felony level physical attack on a student with a disability.  Sheesh!

But oftentimes the “sheesh” is due to the system that we have that enables overly litigious practices. This is particularly prevalent in special ed disputes with the lengthy, complex and ambiguous federal regulations that attempt to micromanage every aspect of the process.

Today’s example is the case we reported last Wednesday from Ohio.  It was a dispute over whether or not the child needed special education services. The court, relying heavily on testimony from classroom teachers, ruled that the student did not need special services; therefore she was not eligible; therefore the district did not violate the “child find” responsibility; therefore the parents would not be eligible for the $20,000 scholarship voucher that Ohio provides for students with autism; therefore the lawyers who represented the parents would not collect attorneys’ fees from the school.

None of that gets this case on the Sheesh-O-Meter. That’s just a routine special education dispute. Here’s what earns this case a spot on the SOM: the special ed due process hearing was spread out over 22 days over seven months. Then the case went to a state level review and then to federal court where the parents alleged 14 procedural violations by the school. The court found no merit in any of them.

An awful lot of lawyering, briefing, citing, arguing, rebutting, rejoindering, and judging went into this case. Surely we can find a less expensive, faster, simpler method for parents to make complaints and get them decided swiftly. Surely. 

This case is Dougall v. Copley-Fairlawn City School District BOE, 75 IDELR 271 (N.D. Ohio 2020).


Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!