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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

Some Things I Learned This Week During OCR Investigatory

Just when you think you have heard it all. School systems are constantly being judged and second guessed by the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education and subjected to onerous, unfair investigations. Here are some highlights from this week’s investigatory interviews:

  1. Your investigator may never have attended an IEP meeting. Never ever.
  2.  Your investigator may have no clue that the IEP team meeting held to develop an IEP follows Maryland’s IEP document.
  3. Your investigator may assume that a negative finding from MSDE in one case means that in a subsequent matter with the same family, the school system should not be believed.
  4. Your investigator may assume that if a parent moves two counties away to live in the county where she works, that move alone proves that the school system did not implement a 504 Plan.
  5. Your investigator may assume that when the school-based members of a team say that an advocate disrupted a meeting by standing and throwing papers at the educators, that such action did not occur because the investigator could not “hear” the papers being thrown.


  1. Assume the investigator has never attended an IEP or 504 meeting. When you explain your case, you need to be clear about the process. Treat your response to OCR like a Special Education/504 100 class. Ask the investigator for his/her experience in the IEP/504 process.
  2. Keep detailed minutes/PWN from every meeting.
  3. The minutes/PWN should reflect all negative actions, such as throwing things, cursing, yelling, pounding the table, and the need to take breaks for calming purposes. Don’t be reluctant to record disruptive behaviors.
  4. If the parent or advocate has an intemperate outburst immediately after the meeting, include it in the minutes/PWN, but note, of course, that it occurred after the meeting.
Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire
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