BSEA Response to OSEP Data Verification Visit
Stephanie Smith Lee
Office of Special Education Programs
United States Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202
December 23, 2003
Dear Ms. Lee:
In response to your request for a plan to address noncompliance with due process hearing timeline requirements under 34 CFR s.300.511, Massachusetts' Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) has begun the following corrective actions:
The BSEA will issue hearing dates no more than 20 days from the date of the request such that the hearing officer will have 25 days post-hearing to issue a decision, thus meeting the 45 day timeline.
In order to ensure a smooth transition, as these are significant changes, the BSEA anticipates that a full transition to these new policies and procedures will be complete as of December 2004.
One of the issues identified by OSEP is that multi-day hearings span long periods of time. Given that the average hearing last year was 3.09 days in duration, the BSEA proposes that the initial notice of hearing reflect three consecutive days.
Parties' use of postponements has been excessive. In order to tighten up the postponement process, the BSEA proposes to change the Hearing Rules, limiting postponements to one which is mutually agreed upon and one per party. A 60 day public comment period is required for a rule change. The BSEA will send OSEP a copy of the proposed rule change.
The BSEA will initiate a practice of dismissing cases without prejudice when they are not ripe for hearing.
The BSEA will limit time allowed for submission of written closing arguments or permit only oral closing arguments by amendment to Hearing Rules. A 60 day public comment period is required for a rule change. The BSEA will send OSEP a copy of the proposed rule change.
Jackie Belf-Becker, Director
copy: Marcia Mittnacht