Parents file class-action suit against Virginia Department of Education, Fairfax School Board over disability hearings

United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, Va.
United States District Court Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond, Va.(Parker Michels-Boyce, Virginia Mercury)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 8:09 AM EDT
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A federal class-action suit has been filed against the Virginia Department of Education and Fairfax County School Board claiming they are violating the rights of disabled students under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The plaintiffs in the case — the parents of an anonymous Fairfax County student and their nonprofit, Hear Our Voices, an organization focused on supporting disabled and special needs students — argue that VDOE and the Fairfax school board “have actively cultivated an unfair and biased” hearing system to oversee challenges to local decisions about disabled students.

The parents claim that state hearing officers, who are responsible for holding impartial hearings to resolve disagreements over issues related to special education services, have ruled disproportionately against parents for two decades.

Between 2010 and 2021, Virginia parents who initiated a due process hearing “received a favorable hearing” in only 13 of 847 cases, the lawsuit says.

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)