Special ed ‘burden of proof’ bill likely to die today in Maryland Senate

March 25, 2013

Maryland state Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery) said she will continue to advocate for reform that would make it easier for parents to dispute their children’s special education learning plans even though the bill she introduced this legislative session effectively died Monday.

Some parents in Maryland were advocating for Montgomery’s Senate Bill 691, which would have shifted the burden of proof in special due process cases to school systems.

Montgomery’s bill has yet to come up for a vote in the Senate and won’t likely meet Monday’s deadline for crossover bills to be considered.

Senate Bill 691 was a crossover with House Bill 1286, which Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) pulled on Saturday, Montgomery’s staff said.

“The Senate doesn’t want this bill to die, but if we send the bill back over [to the House], they will vote it down,” Montgomery said. “This is a worthwhile bill.”

Advocates of the bill wanted school systems to defend the Individual Education Programs in due process legal disputes by default, saying it would help parents who don’t always have the resources to hire attorneys and experts to dispute their children’s education plans.

But opponents of the bill said it was unnecessary because complaints are often resolved in mediation or before they go to a due process hearing. They also said placing the burden of proof on school systems would increase adversarial relationships between families and special education administrators.

Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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