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Bridges4Kids DVD Review: Surviving Due Process

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Title: (DVD) Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree

Reviewed By: Jackie D. Igafo-Te'o
Review Date: November 10, 2004

ISBN: 1-892320-04-5

Price: $19.95

Running Time: 2 hours

For more information or to order this DVD: Contact Harbor House Law Press, Inc. at 877-LAW-IDEA (877-529-4332) or visit www.harborhouselaw.com.

Description: Learn how attorneys for parents and schools prepare for due process hearings. See exciting direct examination and dramatic cross-examination of witnesses, objections and arguments between counsel, and rulings by the hearing officer. Learn about rules that must be followed, mistakes people make - and why the parents' case was nearly dismissed. Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board is based on an actual case about a young child with autism. With different evidence and witnesses, this could easily be a case about a child with a different disability or a different legal issue.

Jackie's Review: Follow the family of Stephen Jeffers and the attorneys on both sides of the table in this grand re-enactment of an actual Due Process hearing.  It was hard for me not to get up and clap when Attorney Pete Wright asked the "perfect question" or to let out a resounding "boo hiss" during several parts of the film where the district's attorney played her role to the nines.  Being one who has sat across the table from a School District's Attorney, I'd have to admit that this DVD brought back some early feelings of discomfort and intimidation, but at the same time reinforced the seriousness of such an event.  I know that many parents can relate to the feeling of being out-numbered and out-gunned.  Being prepared is half of the battle and Pete gives plenty of pointers on how to prepare yourself for a hearing. This DVD allows you to know - in advance - what to expect from the opposite side of the table.  While this DVD doesn't claim to contain the magic formula for all due process hearings, it packages the general idea into a tidy little nutshell that any parent can understand.  Follow the Wrights as they teach what to do and even more critically, what NOT to do in preparing for and participating in a Due Process hearing.  If you've ever wondered about what happens during a Due Process hearing, here's your chance to learn.  I would recommend this DVD to anyone who desires to know more about Due Process or who has already begun Due Process proceedings. Priced reasonably, this DVD makes a perfect gift for your favorite advocate or for parents who are struggling within their own districts. 

Janet's Review: Due Process is not just another IEP meeting. That is the foremost point of this very worthwhile DVD. Due process is a formal hearing resembling a court proceeding. Most people will need an attorney. You will need independent expert evaluations and the experts will be examined and cross-examined during the hearing, as will the school’s experts. The hearings usually take 2 to 3 days but can take more than 20 days in complicated cases. Surviving Due Process takes you through the preparation for due process as well as a simulated hearing that was based on an actual case. Many of the preparations for due process can and ideally should start long before a due process hearing is requested or even thought of. The how and what to document along with the way to organize your records will give you a head start should you or the school request a due process hearing. I am a mother who is very close to requesting a due process hearing for my son. I wish I had viewed Surviving Due Process 2 years ago when my son was in 1st grade. I would be better prepared and have a stronger case. I recommend that any parent of a child that requires more extensive special education services or has behavioral issues view Surviving Due Process as early as possible in your child’s school career.

Jackie's Summary:  Surviving Due Process chronicles Mr. and Mrs. Jeffers' quest to obtain reimbursement for private school placement for their 4-year-old son, Stephen. They believe that private school placement is appropriate for their son, based on his individual needs.  In order to move forward with their request, the parents must request a Due Process hearing. The film begins with a PowerPoint presentation which lays Due Process out in detail. From that point, we enter into a discussion regarding the District's defense strategies, potential questioning, witness list, and records review. A hearing officer is assigned and the process moves forward. A pre-conference hearing lays the ground rules for both sides. Next, we enter into the hearing with the parents, hearing officer, and district representatives. The District's attorney digs into the parents citing their lack of preparedness and inability to follow the rules set forth in the pre-conference hearing report. Emotions run high as both parents are caught by surprise when the District requests case dismissal. Mr. Jeffers explains that he did not understand that the process would be so formal in nature. The hearing officer decides to deny the District's request to dismiss and grants 30-day continuation to the family of Stephen Jeffers. The district strongly objects to the Hearing Officer's 30-day continuation decision. The hearing moves on after Stephen's parents are admonished on the seriousness of the hearing. Based on what the parents learned during this first session, they decide to retain an attorney on their son's behalf (Attorney Pete Wright).

 

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