Chapter 2What Makes a Report Legally Defensible?

Special education law is, if anything, complicated. Federal law contains many undefined terms and, in several places, appears to contradict itself (McBride, Dumont, & Willis, 2011). When you add the complexity of state regulations on top of this, it is no wonder that special education administrators often turn to attorneys for guidance in how to write legally defensible reports. Also making the task of sorting through federal special education law difficult is that there are several sources of legal guidance, including the Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act of 2004 and the subsequent Final Regulations of 2006. Other sources include case law arising from circuit courts and Supreme Court decisions as well as various memos and letters from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, the Office of Special Education Programs, and the Office of Civil Rights (McBride, Dumont, & Willis, 2011). In this chapter, we hope to provide clear characteristics of a legally defensible assessment and report by incorporating legal mandates with what we consider best practices.

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (i.e., PL94-142) was amended, reauthorized, and renamed in 1997 and again in 2004. Now called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), IDEA 2004 and the subsequent regulations provide the framework for parental involvement in children’s educational decision making and planning. ...

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