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Missouri Congress passes bill to improve special education due process hearings

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In an effort to improve special education due process hearings, the Missouri Congress has passed a bill to transfer the administration of these hearings from the State Board of Education to an independent commission. Widely endorsed by Missouri parents of children receiving special education services, the bill awaits final signature from the Missouri governor, Jay Nixon. Below is the latest summary of the bill:

HCS/SS/SCS/SB 595 -- This act transfers the administration of special education due process hearings from the State Board of Education to the Administrative Hearing Commission. This act prohibits commissioners who conduct due process hearings from having previously worked for a school district, an organization engaged in special education parent and student advocacy, the State Board of Education, or the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, either as an employee or as an independent contractor or consultant, within the last five years. A commissioner also cannot have performed work for a parent or a student as s special education advocate within the last five years or been a party to a special education proceeding as an attorney, parent or child. The Administrative Hearing Commission must conform to all practices, procedures, filing deadlines, and response times of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act when conducting due process hearings.

At least three of the commissioners must be trained in special education law, who will be the only commissioners to hear special education matters. They must receive at least ten hours of initial training, which must be selected by the Administrative Hearing Commission in consultation with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the IDEA-funded parent training and information center, as described in the act. Each commissioner assigned to special education matters must complete at least five additional hours of training each year. In addition, training sessions must be recorded and posted on the Administrative Hearing Commission's website, as described in the act.

When a commissioner renders a final decision, it cannot be amended or modified.