Switching Sides, U.S. Backs District in IDEA Case Before Supreme Court
I'll link to a copy of the brief when it's on the SG's website.
The Bush administration has reversed an earlier stance taken by the federal government on a legal appeal dealing with the burden of proof in special education cases, choosing to support the position taken by a Maryland school district in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a case that could shape the outcome of special education disputes across the country, the Supreme Court will decide in Schaffer v. Weast (Case No. 04-698) which side bears the burden of proof in disputes over children's individualized education programs, or IEPs. The question is whether parents need to prove that IEPs are inadequate, or whether school systems must show that the programs sufficiently meet students' needs.
In 2000, while the case was pending in a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., the Department of Justice under President Clinton filed a brief arguing that school districts bear the burden of proving that the programs they develop are the best ones for particular students.
But in a friend-of-the-court brief filed with the high court on June 24, U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said that after a "a careful review" of administrative law and of the changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act approved by Congress late last year, the government was "now of the view" that the burden of proof should fall on the party seeking relief in an IDEA administrative hearing.