The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA) protects the rights of parents and/or guardians of children with disabilities to utilize the due process system to settle disagreements with school districts regarding their children’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). In the event that these disputes move before a due process hearing officer, it is common for each side to enlist experts to provide testimony to support one of the parties involved. In the current study, we examined the use of expert witness testimony in due process hearings in five large states throughout the United States. Findings indicated several concerning trends, such as data reporting differences between states, and parents/guardians having less attorney representation and utilizing witness testimony less frequently than school districts. In addition, we found that hearing officer decisions were most often decided in the favor of the districts. We will discuss these findings in the context of a social justice framework and suggest recommendations.



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