Judicial Appeals for Hearing/review Officer Decisions under IDEA: An Empirical Analysis
Zirkel, Perry A., Exceptional Children
Special education is the most legalized segment of schooling in the United States. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2009) legislation and regulations, along with corollary state laws, amount to hundreds of pages. As comprehensively summarized in various sources (e.g., Yell, Katsiyannis, & Bradley, 2011), IDEA prescribes a formalized process for determining whether the child is eligible under the specified definition for disability, whether the eligible child's individualized education program (IEP) provides a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE), and a host of other statutory entitlements, including extended school year services and protections from disciplinary changes in placement. Finally, for this broad range of issues, IDEA provides more than one specialized avenue for resolving disputes between parents and school districts.
IDEA's primary avenue for dispute resolution--with the alternative being the state education agency's administrative complaint resolution process--is a multilevel adjudicative process that starts with an impartial hearing (Zirkel & McGuire, 2010). The due process hearing (34 C.ER. [section] 300.140) may be the only level of administrative adjudication, or it may represent the first of two tiers of such decision making prior to judicial review. IDEA provides states with the choice of a one- or two-tier system, the optional second tier being a review officer (IDEA, 2009, [section] 1415[g]) prior to appeal to a state or federal court (IDEA, 2009, [section] 1415[i]). The increasing majority of states, currently numbering 41, are one-tier states, and the predominant pattern consists of part-time hearing officers with legal backgrounds (Zirkel & Scala, 2010). Moreover, 10 states and the District of Columbia have accounted for more than 90% of the adjudicated hearings (Zirkel & Gischlar, 2008).
In its landmark decision of Board of Education v. Rowley (1982), the Supreme Court addressed the standard of judicial review under IDEA, concluding that courts must accord "due weight" to the decision of the hearing and/or review officer (p. 205). The Court also warned courts against "substituting their own notions of sound educational policy for those of the school authorities which they review" (p. 206). However, the Court did not specify the precise degree of judicial deference to be accorded to each of these administrative levels, with the impartial hearing officer being the linchpin in this process.
For the parents and the districts who are the parties to adjudicated due process hearings (i.e., those that end with a formal written decision rather than withdrawal or settlement), the degree of judicial deference is critical as to whether to proceed with an appeal to court, which is a costly and "ponderous" process under the IDEA (Burlington School Committee v. Massachusetts Department of Education, 1985, p. 370). In effect, the degree of deference is a major factor in determining the odds that the appeal will be successful. At the one extreme, no deference, which is associated with a de novo (i.e., all anew) standard of judicial review, means that the hearing officer's decision will lack any weight in the court's determination of the outcome of the case. At the other extreme, a highly deferential posture, such as where a court only overturns a lower decision when it is "clearly erroneous" or an "abuse of discretion," means high odds of an affirmance rather than a partial or complete reversal.
For deference beyond the linkage between an administrative adjudication and judicial review, appellate courts generally provide a high, undifferentiated degree of deference to the decisions of lower courts, and the judiciary is also traditionally deferential--under the doctrine of "academic abstention" (Dagley & Veir, 2002, p. 124)--to the educational decisions, such as grading and methodology, of school authorities (e.g., Valente & Valente, 2005, p. 21). Generally for the linkage between administrative adjudications and judicial review, courts accord strong deference to factual findings but de novo review to the legal conclusions of an administrative hearing officer, with the reasons being relative visibility and expertise. In terms of visibility, the hearing officer directly saw and heard the witnesses, whereas the court may be only reviewing the transcript. In terms of expertise, the hearing officer presumably has specialized knowledge and experience with the factual subject matter, whereas the court is the ultimate authority with regard to the law. However, in light of the particular IDEA provision with regard to judicial review, which includes the reviewing court's option to hear additional evidence, the Supreme Court's "due weight" interpretation in Rowley (1982) left lower courts with a lot of latitude for articulating and applying the specific level (i.e., from no to high) and scope (i.e., differentiated or not differentiated between factual findings and legal conclusion) of deference to the decision of the hearing officer. Finally, whether the state has a second, intervening review officer tier between the hearing officer and the reviewing court and whether the parties subsequently appeal to a higher court affects the degree of deference and, thus, the ultimate outcome of the case.
This exploratory study examines and extends the research concerning the actual extent of deference that courts accord to hearing officer decisions under the IDEA. More specifically, the analysis explores the change in the distribution of outcomes, according to a relatively refined categorical scale, from the hearing officer level to the appellate court level, in a state that moved from a two-tier to a one-tier system and that has had substantial litigation activity under the IDEA.
Litigation under IDEA has continued to expand. For example, the number of court decisions concerning special education increased from 497 in the 1980s to 1,318 in the most recent decade, thus accounting for most of the growth in K-12 education litigation during the same period (Zirkel & Johnson, 2011). Many studies have examined the issues and outcomes of IDEA hearing/review officer and decisions nationally and for various issue categories and jurisdictions (Archer, 2002; Newcomer, Zirkel, & Tarola, 1998; Rickey, 2003; Schultz & McKinney, 2000; Zirkel & D'Angelo, 2002). In one of the first studies, Kammerlohr, Henderson, and Rock (1983) examined selected characteristics, including outcomes, for hearing and review officer decisions in Illinois, which is one of the aforementioned top 10 states for adjudicated hearings. They found that of the 314 hearing officer decisions, 23% were "for parents" and 51% "for districts"; of the 95 review officer decisions, 5% were reversals "for parents" and 10% "for districts." These outcome options in relation to the others (e.g., at the hearing officer level--"combination," "other," and "develop IEP") were not clear on their face or otherwise explained (pp. 418-419).
However, the outcomes research specific to the linkage between these administrative and judicial levels has been notably limited. At the margin, an early study in Illinois was limited to second-tier, rather than judicial, review. More specifically, Menacker (1992) applied one of the early lower court interpretations of Rowley's (1982) "due weight" standard judicial review, by analogy, to 31 Illinois review officer decisions from 1988 to 1990. For this limited sample of cases, he found that the ratio of district to parent wins was 55% to 45% at the hearing officer level and 71% to 29% at the review officer level. For the 15 reversals in the 31 cases, Menacker concluded that the review officer had met this particular "due weight" standard in all but one case. In addition to the limited 3-year period, this seminal study relied on a Fourth Circuit decision for the standard of review at a time when the Seventh Circuit, which includes Illinois, had announced a different customization of Rowley's "due weight" language (Board of Education v. Illinois State Board of Education, 1991); and this standard is for courts, not necessarily review officers. Other limitations included (a) the lack of clarity in the application of the selected deference standard (e.g., how Menacker determined whether the review officer met it and why he neither applied it to the nonreversals nor examined the review officer's stated standard); and (b) the imprecision of his outcome analysis (e.g., why it was limited to the two polar categories of wins and losses and to the case as the unit of analysis).
In the only major analysis of the administrative-judicial outcome linkage under IDEA, Newcomer and Zirkel (1999) examined the articulated deference, that is, the degree of due weight that the court said--unless not stated in its opinion--was applicable, and the outcome of the first tier, second tier, trial court, and (if further appealed) appellate court levels for a large sample of cases decided between 1975 and 1995. In light of decisions that were not completely or even conclusively wins or losses, they used a five-category outcomes scale ranging from 1 ("parent complete win") to 5 ("complete district win." Newcomer and Zirkel found that upon judicial appeal the outcomes of 66% of the cases either remained unchanged or moved only one of the five possible categories in either direction. They further found a statistically significant relationship between the degree of articulated deference and the change in adjudicated outcome, although slightly more than a third of the cases did not specify the standard of judicial review.
Various limitations of the Newcomer and Zirkel (1999) study are now obvious in light of more recent research and litigation. First, their outcome scale was not sufficiently refined. More specifically, the intermediate outcome categories were not optimally precise in terms of classifying multiple-issue cases or inconclusive decisions, such as court opinions limited to denying a district's motion of dismissal, thus ruling in the parent's favor but only to preserve the matter for further proceedings that either side could win. More recent outcomes research in general education litigation (e.g., Chouhoud & Zirkel, 2008) and special education litigation (e.g., Zirkel, 2002) have revealed the improved precision of a more clearly defined scale on an issue-by-issue basis.
Second, Newcomer and Zirkel's (1999) continuum for categorizing articulated deference, or stated standard of judicial review, did not take into consideration the courts' differentiation between findings of fact and conclusions of law. Modern post-Rowley (1982) decisions have arrived at various interpretations of the applicable review standard, with some federal appellate courts crystallizing into two divergent paths: globally applying an undifferentiated standard of due weight to the hearing and/or review officer's decision and limiting this semi-deferential standard to the hearing/review officer's factual findings, according no deference, or what they term de novo review, to the legal-interpretation side of the hearing officer's decision. For example, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is binding in Illinois and two other states, has explained that the factual findings of the hearing officer are entitled to deference, except to the limited extent that any new evidence is taken at the review officer or court levels (Dale M. v. Board of Education, 2001); yet, "on issues of law, the hearing officer is entitled to no deference" (Alex R. v. Forrestville Valley Community School District No. 221, 2004, p. 611).
The purpose of this study was to determine, via these more refined operational measures of outcomes and deference, (a) the rulings of hearing officers, review officers, and courts; and (b) the linkage between the initial rulings of hearing officers and the ultimate rulings of courts in terms of extent of change and its relationship to the standard of judicial review.
The sample consisted of all of the court decisions under IDEA available in the Westlaw database and the more specialized Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Report (IDELR) that started with an impartial hearing officer decision in Illinois. Thus, the final court decision in each case was by a federal district court in Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, or Illinois state appellate courts. Illinois is one of the states of high IDEA litigation activity; it had both a two-tier and one-tier system, following the majority trend by moving to the single tier of an impartial hearing on July l, 1997; and it is subject to the Seventh Circuit's relatively clearly crystallized categories of undifferentiated and differentiated judicial review.
The sample did not include court decisions for issues under IDEA that arose directly at the judicial level, such as those concerning exhaustion (i.e., whether the case was an exception to the general prerequisite of exhausting the hearing/ review officer system), stay-put (i.e., during the adjudicative proceedings, what the child's pendent placement should be); class actions (i.e., systematic challenges on behalf of a broad group of students with disabilities); and attorneys' fees (i.e., whether the parents prevailed and, if so, what the amount of the district's payment should be for their legal fees). Similarly, it was limited to court decisions published in Westlaw or IDELR, thus not extending to unavailable decisions and those identified in the relatively new and less generally available Westlaw docket database and the LRP citations in Special Ed Connection [R]. Finally, I excluded subsequent decisions in the same case that did not address the merits of the issue (e.g., Board of Education v. Kelly E., 2000, where the Seventh Circuit decision vacated the state defendant's share of liability in two of the trial court decisions in the sample).
The unit of analysis was the adjudicated issue. The classification of the issues and their approximate frequency (due to the inevitable overlap between some categories, such as FAPE and tuition reimbursement) was as follows: child find (n = 2); evaluation (n = 2); eligibility (n = 2); FAPE, procedural (n = 4); FAPE, substantive (n = 5); FAPE, overall (n = 7); related services, including reimbursement (n = 8); IEP implementation (n = 3); placement, LRE graduation (n = 25); tuition reimbursement (n = 19); independent educational evaluation reimbursement (n = 7); and discipline (n = 2). The outcomes scale, which Lupini and Zirkel (2003) developed, consisted of the following continuum of categories:
1 = Complete and conclusive ruling for the parent
2 = Predominant and conclusive ruling for the parent (e.g., awarding parent 1.5 of the requested 2 years of tuition reimbursement)
3 = Inconclusive ruling for the parent (e.g., denying district's motion for dismissal or summary judgment)
4 = Ruling evenly split between the parent and the school district (e.g., denying both sides' motions for summary judgment, thus preserving the matter for further proceedings)
5 = Inconclusive ruling for the district (e.g., denying parent's motion to introduce additional evidence upon review or rejecting the parent's proposed placement with remand to the IEP team)
6 = Predominant and conclusive ruling for the district (e.g., awarding parent relatively small part of the requested amount of compensatory education)
7 = Complete and conclusive ruling for the district
The analysis of the issue rulings was first in terms of the distribution at each level and second in terms of the extent of change, within the seven-category outcome scale, upon appeal. In response to the questions of the study, the tabular analysis was limited to the outcome change from the hearing officer's ruling to the final judicial ruling in relation to the successive one- and two-tier systems and, separately, in relation to the court's stated undifferentiated (i.e., applicable to the whole decision) and differentiated (i.e., applicable to a component of the decision, such as the factual findings) levels of judicial review. The three classifications of "high," "differentiated," and "unstated" deference represent a simplified, more reliable version of Newcomer and Zirkel's (1999) six levels of deference.
The search of the Westlaw database and IDELR volumes yielded 65 decisions, with the earliest being Walker v. Cronin (1982) and the most recent being Board of Education v. Illinois State Board of Education (2010). All but the two earliest court decisions were in federal courts. The total of 65 court opinions contained 86 issue rulings. Table 1 presents distribution of the outcomes on an issue-by-issue basis at each of the four levels.
Examination of the successive percentage distributions in Table 1 shows an initial predominance in the district's favor (which upon combining the pair of polar categories on each side amounted a 64:32%, or 2:1 ratio); a more moderate district-favorable skew at the review officer level; a preponderance in the districts' favor at the trial court level that was intermediate in its extent between those of the preceding two levels; and the most district-favorable balance for the relatively infrequent rulings--which represented appeals of less than one quarter of those of the trial court--at the appellate court level.
Separate comparisons of each successive pair of rows starting at the hearing officer level, with the analysis limited to the rulings for that pair (e.g., 39 for the hearing officer-review officer comparison), revealed a similar pattern except for a closer congruence between hearing and review officer rulings. Comparing the hearing officer decisions during the early, two-tier period (n = 39) and those during the subsequent, one-tier period (n = 47), however, revealed a more pronounced pro-district skew during the more recent period. Finally, the linkage between the review officer and trial court rulings during the first period and between the hearing officer and trial court rulings during the second period was close congruence.
The distribution of the final court rulings represents combining the 65 that ended at the trial court level and the 21 that ended at the appellate court level. The resulting array from the polar parent to the polar district outcomes for the 86 issue rulings was as follows: 1 = 27%, 2 = 7%, 3 = 5%,4 = 3%, 5 = 2%, 6 = 2%, 7 = 53%. Thus, the 2:1 ratio of the district and parent polar positions persisted for the final court rulings.
Table 2 presents the extent of change from the hearing officer's decision to the final judicial decision, whether it was at the trial court or appellate court level. The table shows that for the overall Illinois sample, the odds of obtaining a substantial change in the hearing officer's ruling by appealing that issue to court and proceeding to a final judicial ruling was relatively low; in three quarters of the rulings, the final judicial outcome was the same or only slightly different than that of the hearing officer. The extent of change was slightly higher in the parents' direction, but the starting point was already at the extreme district side in at least half of the rulings. Although the cell sizes were too small for chi-square analysis, the trend toward modest or no change was particularly pronounced during the period since the late 1990s, when Illinois moved to a one-tier system.
Finally, Table 3 examines whether the extent of change was related to the articulated standard of judicial review of IDEA hearing officer decisions. The three categories of deference were undifferentiated, designated in the table for dearer comparison as "high"; "differentiated"; and, where the court's opinion did not articulate any, "unstated."
Examination of the distributions in Table 3 reveals that the status quo (i.e., the No or Very Small Change column), predominated for approximately three quarters of the rulings for all three categories of deference, with the differences in the moderate and major changes on each side being apparently insignificant in light of the small numbers. Thus, the change upon judicial appeal did not appear to be significantly related to whether the court stated the applicable level of deference and, if so, whether the court articulated the higher or differentiated level.
Focusing on the polar positions on the seven-category outcomes scale reveals a ratio markedly in favor of districts rather than parents. This pro-district trend among hearing/review officer and court outcomes in this 3-decade Illinois sample of IDEA cases is within the general range of previous research (e.g., Zirkel & D'Angelo, 2002). Nevertheless, the unit of analysis and the outcomes scale was more precise in this study than most of the previous research, which (in addition to other sources of variance, such as jurisdiction and time period) cautions against one-for-one comparison.
Moreover, the translation of actual issue rulings to perceived wins and losses is not at all automatic and ultimately depends on one's perspective. For example, from a balancing point of view, a predominant conclusive ruling for the district (i.e., a 6 on the seven-category outcomes scale) would appear to be a district win. However, such an outcome, exemplified by a court's award of 6 months of a parent's request for 2 years of tuition reimbursement, may be perceived as a district loss from the perspective of a district that sought complete vindication. Alternatively and more objectively, courts have generally agreed that parents are the prevailing party if they materially altered the legal relationship between the parties by achieving in adjudication some of the benefit they sought on any significant issue; thus, depending on the court's discretion, the parent may obtain some or all of their attorneys' fees from the school district in such cases (Evanston Community Consolidated School District No. 65 v. Michael M. , 2004; T.D. v. LaGrange School District No. 102, 2003). Even inconclusive rulings (i.e., 3 and 5 on the outcomes scale) may have ended as parent-favorable settlements, which cautions against overly definitive or quick characterizations of such empirical data.
The most practically significant finding of this study, however, was the pronounced propensity for the outcomes to remain stable upon appeal. Although review officers (in 39 of the 86 issue rulings during Illinois' early, two-tier stage) and trial courts (in the 21 of 86 issue rulings subject to appellate court decisions) served as intervening levels for part of the sample, the final judicial outcome was the same or nearly the same for three quarters of all of the rulings. Indeed, for the most recent decade, when Illinois joined the clear majority of other states to have a one-tier system, 87% of the rulings represented this status quo (i.e., no or nearly no change) position when comparing the hearing officer and the final court outcome. Thus, although in addition to the obvious financial stakes, the parents' emotional ties to their child with a disability and the district's defense of its professional authority may contribute to the respective inclinations to appeal an adverse hearing officer ruling, these data show that the odds of reversal or near reversal are quite low. Although these odds are a bit lower for the district than the parent, this difference is likely attributable to the higher proportion of conclusive rulings completely in the districts' favor, thus akin to a regression to the mean effect.
Moreover, on balance these published decisions all represent hearings that were appealed to at least one judicial level, with some proceeding to a higher level for the final outcome. Although various factors affect the parties' choice to appeal rather than accept the hearing officer's decision, a major one is the perceived legal merits of the case in terms of likely success. In cases of unrealistic perceptions of a successful outcome, the hearing officer's decision provides an impartial determination of these merits. Thus, the net effect may be that the sample of published court decisions is skewed toward those cases in which the appealing party had the most favorable odds of obtaining full or partial reversal on appeal. If so, the stability in outcomes is all the more notable.
In any event, as an added factor in considering whether to proceed to a judicial appeal, parties should focus on these percentage changes in relation to the financial costs (e.g., attorneys' fees and time-related costs), and the effects on the child and the parties' relationship, but not to a major extent the standard of judicial review. Contrary to Newcomer and Zirkel's (1999) early research, the results of this study suggest that the court's articulation of deference is not a major factor in relation to the extent of outcome change.
The difference in findings may be due to refinements in the unit of analysis, the outcome scale, and the differentiation dimension of the deference standard. Another contributing factor may be the more recent period of the majority of the rulings in the present study: The Seventh Circuit did not clearly establish its differential standard of judicial review of hearing/review officer decisions until Heather S. v. Wisconsin (1997).
However, other factors warrant caution with regard to the relationship between articulated and actual deference. First is the usual limitation, analogized to an iceberg, that this study only examines the published court decisions, not those generally unavailable and, thus, below the surface (e.g., Mead, 2001). The issues and outcomes of the cases below the surface, including settlements, may differ from the tip of the iceberg (Siegelman & Donohue, 1990). The increasing scope of Westlaw and the addition of the specialized IDELR database only partially mitigate this limitation. Moreover, working down the iceberg's tip--that is, the published cases, to the pre-judicial level of the administrative decisions of hearing and review officers, which is specific to the IDEA context--may have a skewing effect. Specifically, it may be speculated that the parties' decisions not to appeal some of these first- and/or second-tier administrative adjudications or selected issues within them may have had a range-restricting effect, thus lessening the likelihood of major variance for those subject to appeal. Yet, the subsurface selection process is much more complex based on interactions of multiple factors (e.g., Priest & Klein, 1984). It may be that the settlement process may have skewed the sample toward close cases, thus having the countervailing effect of increasing the likelihood of variance at and between the successive levels of adjudication.
Second is a problem of what amounts to missing data within the published cases; this study found that, like Newcomer & Zirkel's (1999) results, the court did not state a particular standard of review in a sizable minority of the cases. The overlapping problem, which has practical consequences in terms of the parties' decision as to whether to proceed to judicial appeal, is that the courts were not particularly consistent and, thus, predictable as to the stated applicable degree of deference.
The refinements of the imprecise deference language in Rowley (1982) tend to complicate the predictability. The Seventh Circuit's various differentiating interpretations include the following:
* legal conclusions, that is, applying the law to the facts and thus constituting mixed questions of fact and law, such as whether the IEP constitutes FAPE in the LRE, are not entitled to judicial deference (e.g., Morton Community Unified School District No. 709 v. J.M., 1998);
* the residual and flexible "due weight" standard applies in two-tier systems to the review officer's decision with the exception of credibility findings of the hearing officer (e.g., Dale M. v. Board of Education, 2001); and
* when a court exercises its discretion to take additional evidence, it creates a sliding scale of (Alex R. v. Forrestville Valley, 2004).
Yet it is not uncommon for the courts to cite the undifferentiated standard of decision to the hearing officer's decision as a whole (e.g., Board of Education v. Ross, 2007). Thus, it is difficult for the parties' attorneys and outcomes researchers to identify the factors that may trigger the specific extent of not only the court's articulated deference (i.e., its stated standard of judicial review), but also and more importantly the court's actual deference (i.e., its outcome change, if any, from that of the hearing officer's decision).
In any event, this study is only exploratory, being limited to not only one state, but also a single researcher. There is evidence of interrater reliability for the outcomes scale (Lupini & Zirkel, 2003, p. 264) as well as for categorization of the secondary variable, standards of judicial deference (Newcomer & Zirkel, 1999, p. 472). Moreover, one of the two developers of both scales uniformly did all the ratings in this study. Finally, my specialized expertise and neutral role in this field and the paired merger of categories for measuring the change in outcomes (in Tables 2 and 3) and the broader conflation into three classifications of deference (Table 3) mitigate potential inaccuracies in the data analysis. Nevertheless, the outcomes and deference categorization is still subject to replication by other researchers.
Replicating this research and extending it to a national sample, with continuing refinements in the methodology (e.g., use of logistic regression models to determine the relative predictive values of the specific variants of the judicial review standard along with other case characteristics; Hilbe, 2009) will increase understanding of the special education litigation process. It also will contribute to improving the parties' practical decisions as to following their initial inclinations to appeal adverse hearing officer rulings. The costs and complications of the successive levels of this adjudicative dispute resolution process reinforces the value of alternative means of maintaining the IDEA vision of partnership between parents and districts for the meaningful benefit and commensurate opportunity of the individual child with a disability.
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PERRY A. ZIRKEL
PERRY A. ZIRKEL, University Professor of Education and Law, Department of Education and Human Services, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The author expresses appreciation for Imad Zaheer, Lehigh University Doctoral Student in School Psychology, for assistance with the data analysis.
Address correspondence concerning this article to Perry A. Zirkel, College of Education, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). The spreadsheet documenting the specific citations and categorization for the cases in this study is available upon request from the author.
Manuscript received April 2011; accepted August 2011.
TABLE 1 Outcome of Issues at Each of the Four Levels of Adjudication Outcome Parents Adjudicative Level 1 2 3 4 Hearing officer 27% 5% 2% 2% (n = 86) (n = 23) (n = 4) (n = 2) (n = 2) Review officer 33% 13% 0% 3% (n = 39)a (n = 13) (n = 5) (n = 0) (n = 1) Trial court 30% 7% 5% 2% (n = 86) (n = 26) (n = 6) (n = 4) (n = 2) Appellate court 24% 5% 0% 5% (n = 21) (n = 5) (n = 1) (n = 0) (n = 1) Outcome District Adjudicative Level 5 6 7 Hearing officer 0% 9% 55% (n = 86) (n = 0) (n = 8) (n = 47) Review officer 0% 3% 49% (n = 39)a (n = 0) (n = 1) (n = 19) Trial court 4% 2% 50% (n = 86) (n = 3) (n = 2) (n = 43) Appellate court 0% 5% 62% (n = 21) (n = 0) (n = 1) (n = 13) Note. Outcome scale: 1 = complete and conclusive ruling for the parent; 2 = predominant and conclusive ruling for the parent; 3 = inconclusive ruling for the parent; 4 = ruling evenly split between the parent and the school district; 5 = inconclusive ruling for the district; 6 = predominant and conclusive ruling for the district; 7 = complete and conclusive ruling for the district. (a) For the initial period until the second tier ended in approximately mid-1997, with belated transition for cases still in the adjudicative "pipeline." TABLE 2 Outcome Change in Hearing Officer's Ruling Upon Judicial Appeal Outcome Change [right arrow] Parents [left arrow] District No Change Reversal or Very Reversal State's or Near Moderate Small Moderate or Near Adjudicative Reversal Change Change Change Reversal System (4-6) (2-3) (0-1) (2-3) (4-6) Two-tier (a) 15% 5% 62% 5% 13% (n = 39) (n = 6) (n = 2) (n = 24) (n = 2) (n = 5) One-tier 6% 4% 87% 0 2% (n = 47) (n = 3) (n = 2) (n = 41) (n = 1) Total 10% 5% 76% 2% 7% (N= 86) (n = 9) (n = 4) (n = 65) (n = 2) (n = 6) Note. Numbers in outcome change columns represent the category range of difference following judicial appeal. (a) This state's two-tier adjudicative process ended in approximately mid-1997, with belated transition for cases still in the adjudicative "pipeline." TABLE 3 Outcome Change for Level of Judicial Deference Outcome Change Parents [left arrow] [right arrow] District No Change Reversal or Very Reversal or Near Moderate Small Moderate or Near Level of Stated Reversal Change Change Change Reversal Deference (4-6) (2-3) (0-1) (2-3) (4-6) High 15% 0 71% 3% 12% (n = 34) (n = 5) (n = 24) (n = 1) (n = 4) Differentiated 10% 10% 75% 0 5% (n = 20) (n = 2) (n = 2) (n = 15) (n = 1) Unstated 6% 6% 81% 3% 3% (n = 32) (n = 2) (n = 2) (n = 26) (n = 1) (n = 1) Note. Numbers in outcome change columns represent the category range of difference following judicial appeal.…
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Publication information: Article title: Judicial Appeals for Hearing/review Officer Decisions under IDEA: An Empirical Analysis. Contributors: Zirkel, Perry A. - Author. Journal title: Exceptional Children. Volume: 78. Issue: 3 Publication date: Spring 2012. Page number: 375+. © 1999 Council for Exceptional Children. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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