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District Response to Negative Social and Mainstream Articles

posted Jun 3, 2017, 7:50 PM by Jodi Fortuna   [ updated Jun 5, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

The Hudson Public Schools offer an outstanding education to general education students as well as students with disabilities.

We invite those who are interested to visit our schools to learn about the high quality teaching and learning that occurs every day.

Recent stories in both social and mainstream media channels seek to question the caliber of services that we provide to our 2700 students every day, including services provided to students with special needs.

We understand that it is difficult for someone looking from the outside in to understand the complexities of the situation. As we have discussed previously, when parents and school personnel continue to disagree about a disabled student’s eligibility for a plan or the need for certain accommodations and services, including technology, our state and federal disability laws mandate that dispute resolution occur in one venue – the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA).

Parents of students with disabilities can also file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR will investigate whether the district has followed process, as noted above. There is no litigation at OCR. There is the opportunity for a due process hearing at the BSEA, and then further appeal to state or federal court, if sought by the party who is unsuccessful before the BSEA. Both of these venues are available to parents free of charge. There is no need to retain an attorney or advocate to access dispute resolution via these agencies.

We encourage all parents who have disputes with the outcome of our internal process to seek resolution through the BSEA or OCR. We welcome the opportunity to engage in informal dispute resolution, which can occur at a mediation or pre hearing conference provided by the BSEA.

As noted, If necessary, the parties can also obtain a due process hearing for formal resolution of the dispute at the BSEA.

NO attorney or advocate is needed for this process.

We discourage parents with complaints about the outcome of our process from going to the media, including social media, the local school committee, or their elected officials, since they argue their case to 3rd parties who have no access to the information held by the school district. The school district is prohibited from sharing information with 3rd parties, given state and federal student confidentiality laws. 

Litigating a claim in the court of public opinion can lead to unfortunate consequences for the child at issue – his or her disability is revealed to the public, the child’s actual needs and circumstances can be misunderstood, and the parent’s expectation to “win their case” outside of the process – if successful – could lead to inequality of treatment, as notions of due process and fairness and following the legal standards would be ignored in favor of headlines and public pressure.

As noted above, there are specific agencies identified by law as the sole venues for dispute resolution involving these student rights’ matters– the BSEA and OCR.

We look forward to having an opportunity to work with this parent in one of these venues, if she elects to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to follow our internal mandates to serve this student in accordance with all requirements provided in applicable state and federal law.

The success of our students is our first priority.