Special education has become a significant area of litigation in the K-12 school context. The impartial hearing officer (“IHO”) is the fulcrum of the adjudicative process under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”). However, the IDEA only provides for two standards for impartiality while the framework of remaining standards are left—via the IDEA’s structure of “cooperative federalism”—to state laws. Ultimately, the courts serve as the chief cartographer for the legal boundaries of IDEA IHO impartiality in their interpretation, gap-filling, and application of the federal and state framework. The previous research relating at least in part to IDEA IHO impartiality is notably limited in date, location, and focus. In the predecessor of the present analysis, Maher and Zirkel synthesized the cumulative court decisions, RO decisions, and federal agency interpretations as of 2007 into a checklist template consisting of a table that in its rows identified various specific categories that had arisen in this cumulative body of law. The purpose of this article is to provide an update of the Maher and Zirkel case law analysis, with limited appropriate adjustments. Overall, this update shows that the impartiality of IHOs under the IDEA merits further customization so as to facilitate the prompt completion of the hearing process.
Perry A. Zirkel,
The Legal Boundaries for Impartiality of IDEA Hearing Officers: An Update,
21 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/drlj/vol21/iss1/8